As a parent, the safety of your children should always be your primary concern. This is especially true when traveling in a car or another vehicle. Car accidents are the leading cause of injuries and death among children between the ages of 1 and 12 in Georgia, and national statistics indicate that more than 1,300 children died in crashes in 2009 while 179,000 more were injured.
Child car seats are the best way to prevent devastating injuries and worse in car accidents. Unfortunately, improper car seat use is a major contributor to car accident injuries and deaths among children. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 40 percent of children under the age of 6 who are seriously injured or killed in car accidents were either improperly restrained or unrestrained. When used properly, however, child safety seats are 54 percent effective in preventing injury among children between the ages of 1 and 4 and 71 percent effective in infant injury prevention.
Because car seats play a crucial role in child safety, Georgia lawmakers have implemented numerous regulations and laws pertaining to the use of them. In this blog post, we will discuss Georgia’s car seat laws and how to help keep your kids safe on the road.
Kids Belong in the Back Seat
Georgia has several laws pertaining to car seat use. For starters, all children who are less than 8 years old and stand less than 57 inches tall are required to ride in the back seat. Young children are much safer in the back where they are farther away from airbags. While airbags are designed to save the lives of adults, the force with which they deploy can be fatal to small children. Kids under the age of 8 are also required to travel either in a booster seat or a car seat that is appropriate for their height, weight and age.
There are a few exceptions. If a vehicle does not have a back seat or if the back seat is occupied by other properly restrained children, a child under the age of 8 may be allowed to sit up front. In these circumstances, the child must weigh no less than 40 pounds and be properly restrained in a booster or car seat.
Seatbelt Laws for Kids
Children who are older than 8 are required to wear seatbelts while in moving vehicles. In addition, any child who is more than four feet nine inches tall may use a standard seat belt instead of a booster seat.
Georgia has a primary safety belt law. This means that police officers are permitted to issue citations if they observe seatbelt offenses. While other states only allow law enforcement officers to issue citations for seatbelt violations if the vehicle is pulled over for another traffic violation first, Georgia officers are permitted to do so as a primary offense.
Common Sense Safety Tips for Driving with Children
Georgia has explicit laws regarding car seat and seat belt use for infants and children. While these laws must be obeyed, they should not be the only thing you take into consideration when doing your best to ensure your children’s safety.
The back seat is the safest place for kids under the age of 13 — even if they are tall enough to no longer require a booster seat. Kids in car seats should always be in the back seat unless you are in a vehicle — such as a pickup truck — that does not have a back seat. Airbags can be deadly in accidents, so it is always best to seat young children as far away from them as possible.
Never travel with a child on your lap. In addition to being illegal, doing so is extremely dangerous. Make sure everyone in your vehicle buckles up or is properly secured in a car seat even when taking a short trip. Most automobile accidents occur within a five-mile radius of home, so statistically you are more likely to be involved in one when you’re on a quick jaunt around town than on a cross-country road trip.
If you have been involved in a car accident, replace all car seats or booster seats that were in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Even if there does not appear to be any physical damage, the accident could have caused structural damage that may not be visible. Also, avoid using second-hand or used car seats, as they could have undetectable damage that may compromise their ability to protect your child in an accident.
Car seat laws exist to help keep infants and children safe. While failing to abide by them could result in some hefty fines, it could also lead to much more devastating consequences. Keep your family safe by making sure everyone is buckled in properly for every single trip.