Car Seats and Infant Safety While Driving | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Car Seats and Infant Safety While Driving

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A father is fastening his newborn son into the car as the baby is in an infant safety car seat.

Are you often on the road with kids in the backseat? You may wonder how you can keep your children safer, especially if a collision were to happen. This is one of the reasons why car seats were invented. You want to make sure you follow all the infant safety regulations for car seats so that they actually work correctly to keep your baby safe. Here are some of the regulations for proper use!


Car Seats 101

If you’re a new parent (or even an experienced parent), you will see countless car seats on the market today. Some hook into strollers, others work for children from the newborn stage up to 60 pounds and others can be custom-designed for the features you want. No matter what car seat you decide to buy, make sure it is a trusted brand that does not have a safety recall on their seats.


You also don’t want to buy a used carseat if you can help it. Why? Car seats expire. Most people don’t know this unless they’ve had a child and have been told this. Expirations on a car seat are not set because a seat will go out of style, but because the plastic breaks down over time. If you have a seat with brittle plastic, it can shatter in a collision, seriously harming or causing death to an infant. That is why it’s so important that you choose a quality car seat that’s new with quality materials.


Every car seat will come with instructions for use and the manufacturer information for infant safety. Where this information is, you will see an expiration date for your car seat. You will also see various stamps of approval, as all car seats on the market must have an infant safety approval, signifying that they have passed crash tests and met the child or infant safety standard. Many (if not all) are approved the the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).


A woman that is looking at various car seats in a store. There is one row on a bottom shelf of car seats and a row above that.

Car Seat Laws and Safety

When leaving the hospital with a newborn, you won’t be allowed to leave unless the infant has a proper car seat that has not expired. This is how an infant will travel home the first time and a safe car seat must be used for all travel that happens in the car afterwards. Here is what you need to know about car seats as a driver:

  • The size of the car seat needs to fit the child’s age/size. Each seat will come with a height and weight limit. Infant seats are different than mid-size car seats and are different from booster seats. Choose a seat according to your infant’s weight and height.
  • Infants should be kept rear-facing as long as possible, as this protects a baby’s neck during impact.
  • When a child is older, the lap belt should fall securely across the chest. This is why you need a booster until your child is large enough for the chest strap to fall where it should.
  • If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, you may also receive a ticket for a standard offense if you violate any rules of the infant or child restraint.
  • Keep your infant or child in their seat for as long as possible before moving them up to the next seat. The transition period between seats may mean a child is a bit less protected because of the extra space they have. Your child is ready for a larger car seat or booster when they outgrow the weight or height restriction on a car seat.


The infant safety laws will vary from state to state. Here is a list of specific guidelines or laws for your state.


Infant Safety While Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that car crashes are the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 13. For infants and toddlers, collisions can be especially detrimental because they are so fragile. That is why you want to practice child and infant safety on the road. Use car seats as prescribed. The NHTSA recommends rear-facing infant seats between birth and 3 years of age.


Depending on height and state laws, forward-facing car seats can be used between 18 months and 7 years, if needed. Boosters are used for children between 4 and 12 years according to size, even though children can transition to only needing the lap belt around age 8. Infants should never be in the front seat of a car and must have their car seat secured in place with the lap belt or car seat base that is secured with a lap belt.


A woman is fastening her small baby into a car seat before driving her car.

Distractions and Other Useful Tips

When you child starts to grow, they may ask to sit in the front seat of your vehicle. However, you want to keep your child in the back seat through age 12. Many states will have specific laws regarding the age of minors sitting in the front seat. Check what policies your state has.


In every state, texting while driving is illegal and dangerous. This is one of the most common reasons why drivers are distracted. Just one text one time can lead to a collision, where the consequences are dire. Limit your distractions as much as possible, keep two hands on the wheel and find methods that work for you to be as safe as possible. If you must make phone calls in the car, make sure you set up bluetooth or other hands-free methods. When using a mapping device, have a gps or cell phone holder connected to your dash that will allow you to navigate while keeping your eyes ahead on the road.


No matter if you have questions about a car service, driving distracted, infant safety, car seats or more, we’ve got you covered! Call Scott’s Fort Collins Auto today at (970) 682-4202 for your consultation!

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