The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) has published new recommendations so that professionals can confidently advise parents on how they should be transporting their children by car. We will be taking a look below at what this advice entails.
The academy refers to the fact that children's safety seats reduce the risk of injury by 71% to 82% and reduce the risk of death by 28% when compared with children of similar ages in seat belts. For these reasons they have promoted the following recommendations for medical professionals.
- All babies and young children should travel in a rear-facing child restraint system for as long as possible and until they have outgrown the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend doing so until the child is at least 4 years old.
- All children who have exceeded the weight or height limit for rear-facing seats should use a forward-facing CRS with a harness for as long as possible.
- Following this, children will need to use a booster seat until the seat belt can be properly fastened without it. The AAP point out that this usually occurs between 8 and 12 years of age. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using a booster with a backrest for greater safety.
- When children are old enough and have grown enough to only need to use the vehicle's seat belt, this needs to be a three-point belt.
- All children under 13 years old should be secured in the vehicle's rear seats for maximum protection. Spanish legislation requires all young children under 135 cm tall to travel in a child car seat. The AAP warns that as older children start to use the seat belt it is more likely that their parents will allow them to sit on the vehicle's front seats. This increases the general risk of injury.
Accordingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics insists that children should be traveling in a rear-facing seat until they weigh 18 kilos, and always following the child seat manufacturer's instructions. Likewise, they point out that the child car seat should be used until the children are 145 cm tall. Let's not forget that in Europe we recommend that children use them until they are 150 cm tall, although there are some countries whose legislation only requires them to be in a child car seat until they are 135 cm tall.
The AAP highlights the important role that pediatricians play in raising awareness in families about children's road safety and how they should be transporting children safely by car. Therefore, they are encouraging all medical professionals to learn about and promote these recommendations as a part of accident prevention whenever children visit their clinics.