Securing a child in a car seat may drastically reduce the chances of serious injury and death in the event of a car accident. However, many parents in Indiana use car seats improperly. To get the full safety benefits of a child restraint system, it is essential to install and operate it correctly.

The CDC states that a child properly secured in the right car seat for his or her size and age may be significantly less likely to sustain serious and fatal injuries in a car crash. Standard car seat belts do not protect children as effectively as safety seats; compared to a typical seat belt, a car seat may reduce the risk of crash-related injuries by approximately 80 percent. Booster seats for older children perform better than seat belts, which may protect adult bodies but do not function as well for children. The risk of serious injuries may be almost twice as great for a child using a seat belt alone compared to a child buckled in with a booster seat.

According to the Indiana State Police, the state’s child restraint law requires the proper use of a booster seat or a child safety seat for all children under 8 years old. Parents must use a rear-facing car seat for children who are under 1 year old and who weight less than 20 pounds. Once a child surpasses these age and weight milestones, he or she may use a forward-facing car seat that has an internal harness. Parents must use the vehicle’s LATCH system or seat belt to properly secure a safety seat so that it cannot slide more than 1 inch in any direction. The law also requires parents to follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.