At what age can my child use a booster seat?
Our children are our future and we would do anything to keep them safe. Each year, over 1,600 children under the age of 15 are killed in accidents on the road. Car accidents are considered a leading cause of death in young children, making it imperative that you ensure your child is as protected as possible against injuries while traveling. Proper restraint of children in a car or booster seat has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of injury to young children. Our Rio Rancho, New Mexico automobile accident attorneys explore New Mexico’s child safety seat laws and how you can keep your child safe on the road below.
Rear Facing Child Safety Seat
Infants are particularly at risk of injury in the event of an accident due to their lack of head control. Rear facing infant car seats offer the best protection for young children because they decrease the risk of head, neck, and torso injuries. In fact, children between the ages of one and two are five times less likely to be injured in a crash when rear facing, as opposed to forward facing.
Under New Mexico law, all children under the age of 1 and less than 20 pounds should be rear facing. Current research suggests that parents should keep their children rear facing as long as possible. Several brands of car seats allow children to remain rear facing up to 35 pounds or more. Always check your car seat specifications to ensure you remain in compliance.
Forward Facing Child Safety Seat
Once your child has exceeded the rear facing limits for your car seat, you can safely turn your child forward facing in a convertible car seat. Forward facing car seats continue to provide the right protections for young children by spreading the crash energy across the child’s shoulders, chest, and hips. Your child should remain forward facing in a car seat until he or she exceeds the limits, which could be anywhere between 40 and 60 pounds.
A booster seat is a next step up from a car seat, but before a regular seat belt. A seat belt will not properly fit most young children. The belt needs to cross below the neck and the belt must rest on the hips, not the belly. A booster seat allows the child to correctly be protected by the seat belt. Your child should remain in a booster seat until he or she is at least 60 pounds, regardless of age, with no child under the age of six using a seatbelt alone.
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