In the U.S., vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death for children under the age of 13. The Safe Kids Georgia program reports that, each day, over 2,600 children under 13 experience an auto-related injury.

Because of their relatively small size and still-developing bodies, even older children may be more likely to experience severe injury during a motor vehicle collision. Ensuring that kids are properly restrained may help to reduce the risk of serious harm.

Children under age 8 should ride in a car seat or booster seat

To keep young passengers safe during a collision, Georgia law requires that guardians restrain children under age 8 in an age and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children ride in a rear-facing safety seat until roughly age 2, then a forward-facing seat until around age 5, depending on the upper weight and height limits of the specific seat.

Once young children grow out of a forward-facing car seat, they may still be too small for the installed seat belts to fit them properly. Children should use a booster seat until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts lie across the hips and chest rather than the stomach and neck.

Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat

The CDC also recommends that children age 12 and under ride in the back seat of the vehicle, in the center position if possible. Whether riding in a car seat, booster seat or using the installed belts, this helps protect children from the potentially explosive force of deployed airbags and may ensure better protection during a collision.