Even though car seats have proven to save children’s lives, motor-vehicle crashes are still a leading cause of death and injury to children in this country. And what’s worse, 40 percent of children who should be in a child restraint are not in one, even though they can reduce the risk of death by 28 percent and the risk of injuries by up to 82 percent.
Louisiana is a troubling case in point. From 2018 to 2020, an average of 27 children a year, ages 1 to 14, died due to motor vehicle accidents, according to this report on child mortality. Child safety seats were not used or used incorrectly in most Louisiana child deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes. Furthermore, Louisiana’s child mortality rate from all injuries, including car crashes, has consistently been higher than the national average.
Yet, despite these statistics, some parents still take the chance of not restraining their children in a car seat before getting on the road. That’s why laws were enacted to hold parents accountable for taking the necessary precautions that protect their children.
Louisiana’s Child Car Seat Laws
The laws that govern child car seat use vary from state to state. At a high level, Louisiana put the following law in place to protect the safety of children:
“Every driver in this state who transports a child or children under the age of eighteen years in a motor vehicle that is in motion and is required by federal safety standards to be equipped with a safety belt system or lower anchors and tethers for children in a passenger seating position shall have the child properly restrained according to the vehicle and child safety seat manufacturer’s instructions.”
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in the state of Louisiana you must adhere to these child passenger safety laws.
Safety Starts With Choosing the Right Seat
Did you know that in Louisiana there are more than 600 nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to make sure you choose the right seat and install it correctly? Here are other safety tips to help ensure you have the right car seat for your child.
Age of Child: Infants
Infants should always have a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 22 pounds. Choose from either an infant car seat or a convertible car seat, which can be converted to forward-facing once the child is big enough. With an infant car seat, you can detach the portable seat from the base and remove it while the base remains strapped in. Unlike an infant seat, convertible car seats do not detach from the base and are not meant to be portable. However, the versatility of these is popular with parents.
Age of Child: Toddlers
When to transition to a forward-facing seat will vary depending on the weight and size of your child as they grow. For most children, the right time will come between the ages of two and three. Once your child is ready for a forward-facing seat, you can continue using a convertible seat if you own one.
Combination car seats are forward-facing ones that can convert into booster seats once the child is ready. Like convertible car seats, this saves parents from buying an additional seat once their child has outgrown the need for a car seat.
Age of Child: Ready for School
As with the transition from rear-facing to forward-facing, there’s no set time when parents should switch to a booster seat. Typically, booster seats are recommended for children weighing at least 40 to 60 pounds, which typically occurs between the ages of four and 10. If you already use a combination seat for your toddler, you can simply convert it to a booster seat. To do this, you will remove the safety harness from the car seat and secure your child with a standard seat belt.
Booster seats are only meant to be used as boosters. They cannot serve as car seats beforehand. Ultimately, the choice between a combination seat or a booster seat will likely come down to preference and budget. (Combination seats are generally more expensive than dedicated booster seats.)
What Should I Do If a Car Accident Hurt My Child?
The goal as a parent is to minimize danger and keep your kids safe on the road. Of course, millions of accidents can – and do – still happen, with children as the most vulnerable population. If your child has been injured in an accident and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.