Take the 5 Step Seat Belt Test
Is your child riding in the car safe?
Having been a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician for many years now I can understand my husband’s desire to follow people home to educate them about properly restraining their children in the vehicle. (He says he’s only done it while in his firefighter uniform. And as far as I know he’s only done it once. And I know he had the best of intentions; he wants every child to be safe in the car.)
As I drive around town the number of kids I see improperly restrained, unrestrained or sitting in the front seat appalls me.
Just the other day we saw a infant riding in the car in the arms of someone sitting in the front seat of a vehicle driving behind us. I know parents ultimately want to keep their children safe. So I wonder, do these parents just not know? Do they remember to their childhood thinking, “well, we all made it out alive without car seats at all”? Can some of them not afford a car seat and don’t know where to find an organization that offers them for free?
Before moving your child to a vehicle seat belt try the 5 step seat belt test
The statistics say the booster age range child is the most likely to not use a proper child restraint. I’ve heard a lot of excuses for this. The one I’ve heard the most is, “my child is older and thinks a booster seat is for babies.”
I deplore you parents to keep your babies safe while riding in the car no matter what age they are. So before a child should be sitting in a car seat, he or she needs to meet the following five criteria called the 5 Step Seat Belt Test:
- Shoulder belt crosses between the neck and shoulder.
- Lower back is against the vehicle seat
- Lap belt is on the thighs.
- The knees bend at the end of the seat.
- The child can ride like this for the entire ride.
Sometimes children will meet these criteria in some cars but not in others because different seat belts in different cars fit differently.
The general rule of thumb is the child needs to be at least 4 foot 9 inches tall to fit properly.
Different states may also have an age requirement. Sometimes the state car seat law will say age “and” height meaning they have to be both that age and height. And sometimes the law will say age “or” height meaning the child has to be one or the other but not necessarily both to be legally allowed to be out of a child passenger safety seat.
Please remember also it is best practice for children to be seated in the back seat until they are 13-years-old.
We want to know, did you know the 5-step test prior to reading this post? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2014 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
This post was originally published May 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.