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Don't rush your children out of booster seats

National Child Passenger Safety Week is September 18-24

Attractive woman driving her kid to class
Children should remain in a booster seat to ensure the seat belt is positioned properly to avoid injury.
Antonio_Diaz/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Children seem to transition from stages so quickly that parents and caregivers may not always realize when one phase ends and another begins.

When it comes to child safety seats in vehicles, however, parents and caregivers should not transition children out of a booster seat too quickly. The information comes ahead of National Child Passenger Safety Week, which is Sept. 18-24.

According to the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services, kids who are in a booster seat that correctly positions a safety belt are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash than kids who only use a seat belt.

Children are not ready to transition out of a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old. Typically, children can not use a seat belt properly without a booster seat until they reach 10 to 12 years old.

Booster seats bring children higher off the seat so the seat belt lies across the strong bones of the chest and the pelvis, rather than the belly and neck, according to a press release from the department.

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When a seat belt isn't positioned correctly and is rubbing on a child's neck or face, the child may put the belt behind their back or under their arm, which poses greater risk of injury to their upper body. If children wear a seat belt too high on their stomach, they are at an increased risk of injury to their abdomen.

To check if your child is ready for a seat belt, ask yourself these questions once the child is buckled in:

  • Can your child sit with a straight back against the vehicle seat back?
  • In that position, do their legs bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  • Does the lap belt stay low, touching the child’s thighs (not their belly)?
  • Does the shoulder belt cross the center of the child’s shoulder?
  • Can your child sit this way without slouching throughout the entire ride?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, keep your child in a booster seat.
Also remember that children who are under the age of 13 are safer riding in the back seat.

For more information, visit: https://www.health.nd.gov/north-dakota-child-passenger-safety.

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