It’s our duty to keep our children safe, whether at home or on the road. The best way to do that in your car is to make sure they’re seated properly in their car seats.
Protecting Your Child during the First Years
Babies and toddlers should be in the back seat in a car seat with it facing backward until the age of two. Smaller children will benefit from staying in this position longer.
Children usually over the age of two can sit in the car seat facing forward and should use a harness for as long as possible. Still, you should make sure the seat is in the back rather than the front of the car. Once children reach the ages of 4 to 8, height not weight dictate car seat regulations. Any child who is less than 4 feet 9 inches tall needs to be in a booster seat in the back of the car.
The Pre-Teen Years
Any child who is taller than 4 feet 9 inches and is between the ages of 8 and 12 can use the seatbelt system safely. Children should sit in the back seat of the vehicle until they are 13 years old, as this is the safest place. Many cars come with an airbag on/off switch, which you should set to “off” if your child has to sit up front. The force of a deploying airbag can harm children in the front seat. Check your vehicle owner manual for specifics.
Keeping Teenagers Safe
As a rule, teenagers may sit in the front or back seat, as long as they use their seatbelts. From the ages of 13 to 16, you are responsible for making sure your child always wears his or her seatbelt. If your teen isn’t wearing a seatbelt, you can be fined for violating the law. After 16, you are no longer responsible for your teen’s safety restraints, though seatbelts should always be encouraged. It is a law in Tennessee that all passengers must use their seatbelts, so be sure to reiterate this to your teens.
For more information on specific car safety regulations and frequently asked questions, click here.