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Published on Sep 18, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Child Passenger Safety Week: Are Your Kids Safe in the Car?

Car Seat Infographics

If you're a parent or guardian, keeping your kids safe is a top priority. You may use a car seat or booster seat every time you get in the car, but are you sure you're using it correctly? A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that just 3 percent of children age 1-3 travel in a proper, rear-facing car seat. In fact, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police says that the car seat misuse rate in Allegheny County is about 90 percent.

That's why the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is joining with several organizations for National Child Passenger Safety Week. This year's theme is "Put them in the Right Seat, at the Right Time, and use it in the Right Way."

Using a car seat properly – putting them in the right seat, at the right time, and using it in the right way -- can reduce the risk of your child's death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The key to keeping your kids safe is to know the law, understand safety seat guidelines, and follow car seat safety tips.

Know Pennsylvania's Child Restraint Laws

Pennsylvania law requires all drivers to secure children under 8 years of age in an approved safety seat or booster seat. Children ages 8-18 must wear a seat belt, regardless of where they sit in the vehicle.

Violators of these primary laws can be pulled over by police officers solely for this reason and face fines of up to $75 plus court costs.

Safety Seat Guidelines

Proper Car Seat Use Chart






Birth to 1 year at least 20-22 lbs.

Up to 4 years, or between 20 and 35 pounds.

Over 40 lbs., ages 4 to 12 unless 4'9".


Infant only or rear-facing convertible

Convertible / rear-facing

Belt-positioning booster seat


Rear-facing only

Rear-facing (unless above height/weight requirements)

Forward-facing (when they are above the height/weight requirements)


Children who weigh less than 20 pounds and who are under the age of 1 should ride in rear-facing seats.

Harness straps at or below shoulder level.

Harness straps should be at or above shoulders.

Most seats require top slot for forward-facing when above height/weight requirements.

Belt positioning booster seats must be used with both lap and shoulder belt.

Make sure the lap belt fits low and tight across the lap/upper thigh area and the shoulder belt fits snug crossing the chest and shoulder to avoid abdominal injuries.


All children ages 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

All children ages 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

All children ages 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

Follow These Car Seat Safety Tips

  • Know which safety seat is appropriate for the height and weight of your child, as well as the car seat laws for the state in which you live.
  • Read the manual that comes with the safety seat, as well as the manual for your vehicle.
  • Visit a local inspection station to check that the seat is installed correctly. There are several local fitting stations and car seat inspection stations near you.
  • Remember to register your safety seat so you'll be notified if there has been a recall.

Please share this information with other parents and guardians. You can find more information about child passenger safety on our website, including a helpful infographic that features statistics and guidelines. By raising awareness about the importance of using safety seats correctly, we can help prevent children from being injured or killed in car accidents or due to faulty car seats.

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