Car Seat Safety
Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children ages 2 to 14, and every year, many children are injured in crashes. So how can you help a child in your car travel safely? Use a properly installed child safety seat, booster seat or the vehicle seat belt every time a child rides in your vehicle.
The University of Vermont Children's Hospital Child Passenger Safety Program offers car seat inspections, education and outreach. Call (802) 847-1215 to schedule an inspection or for more information about our program.
Correct Car Seat Use
For maximum child passenger safety, simply remember and follow these Four Stages for all kids, in every vehicle! (Photos courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
Stage 1: Rear-Facing Seats
Use rear-facing seats for infants and toddlers until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Never place a rear-facing seat in front of an active airbag.
Stage 2: Forward-Facing Seats
Use forward-facing car seats for children until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Always use a top tether with a forward-facing car seat.
Stage 3: Booster Seats
Use belt-positioning booster seats for children under 8 years old who have reached the forward-facing limits for their harnessed car seat. Always use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt – never a lap-only belt.
Stage 4: Seat Belts
Use the seat belt when a child is at least 8 years old and the seat belt fits them correctly. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. Make sure you and everyone else in the car buckles up, too.
We Have a Little Emergency
Even when passenger restraints are used properly, a crash or other medical emergency may make it impossible for an adult to relay key information about the children in their vehicle to first responders. We Have a Little Emergency (W.H.A.L.E.) easily provides first responders with the information they need to provide children with the best possible care. Request your Free W.H.A.L.E. Kit.
Car Seat Safety Resources
Always refer to your car seat manual and vehicle owner’s manual for specific information about your car seat or booster. To learn more about child passenger safety, refer to the following helpful resources.
Car Seat Safety Blog Posts
- Air Travel with Children - How to Use Car Seats on Airplanes
- The Dangers of Heatstroke
- How to Clean a Car Seat to Prevent Infections
- Winter Coats and Car Seat Safety
Car Seat Harnessing and Installation Videos
Car Seat Safety: Installation
Car Seat Safety: Harnessing
Other Car Seat Information
- Car Seats: Information for Families (The American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Car Seats and Booster Seats (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
- The Ultimate Car Seat Guide (Safe Kids Worldwide)
- Be Seat Smart (Vermont Department of Health) - This website includes a list of car seat fitting stations (inspection stations) in Vermont and outlines the State’s program for distribution of car seats and booster seats to income-eligible families.