Vehicle seatbelts are generally designed for adults and do not properly fit a child. While the laws for properly restraining a child vary from state to state, no matter what is required by local law, in order to ride without a child seat, your child must be large enough for the vehicle seatbelt to properly fit them. Most children are not large enough (generally 4 feet 9 inches tall) for a seatbelt alone to properly fit them until they are 10 or 11 years old. While there is no single criteria for when a child can ride in just a vehicle seatbelt, there is a simple 5-step test that can be used to check if your child can be properly restrained with just seatbelt in your vehicle. Continue reading “Is Your Child Big Enough to Ride in a Seatbelt?”
November is Child Safety & Protection Month, a time to look at various ways to keep your children safe. While you take the time to look over the numerous items related to the safety of your children, don’t neglect to take some time to make sure they are traveling safely. Every year, motor vehicle crashes rank high on the list of leading the causes of injury and fatality for children in most age groups.
Here are some general points to consider:
- Children over 4’9” are likely riding in a seatbelt. It is important to make sure the seatbelt fits them properly, as they are generally designed for adults. While there is no single criteria indicating when a child is large enough for a seatbelt without a booster or child’s car seat, there are steps you can take to determine when your child can rely solely on the seatbelt.
- If your child is smaller than 4’9”, they should be riding in a car seat. There are two important checks that should be made for safety. First, check the expiration date to confirm the child car seat is not past its allowed lifetime, which is typically 6 years. Second, verify the car seat has no open recalls. To do this you will need the car seat manufacturer, model number and date of manufacture. Checking for recalls can be done on either the manufacturer’s website or on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website. (https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm)