There has been lots of talk about car seat safety after the recent and shocking story of an 11-year-old boy who became a quadriplegic after a head-on crash. Although the law states that children can sit in an adult seat belt from the very young age of 7 years, it is recommended that children remain in a restrained car seat until they are 145cm tall. This recommendation comes as seat belts are designed to sit across the shoulder and breast plate and over the passenger’s hips and pelvis to protect them in case of a crash. If a child is less than 145cm, the belt is more likely to dig into their neck and slide up on to the stomach which can cause major injuries to the organs, blood vessels in the neck, spinal injuries and sometimes even death during an accident.
My child is too big for a car seat but not yet 145cm, what do I do?
There are so many amazing seats on the market that can allow children to stay in a 5 point harness seat until a seated height of 51cm or in a booster seat until a seated height of 57cm
This means that children can stay in a harnessed car seat until at least 8 or 9 years and a booster seat until at least 10-12 years if they are not yet 145cm.
What is seated height?
Seated height is measured from your bottom to your shoulders when sitting.
Seats have height markers on them and when your child’s shoulders reach the exit markers on these seats, it is time for your child to move out of that seat.
I think my child is ready for an adult belt
The law states that children must be 7 years to sit in an adult sash belt but it is recommended that they be 145cm and meet the 5 step test.
What is the 5 step test?
In order for your child to safely travel in an adult sash belt they should be able to pass the following questions.
- Can your child sit with their back against the vehicle seat?
- Do your child’s knees bend in front of the edge of the seat cushion?
- Is the lap belt sitting low across your child’s hips and touching their thighs?
- Does the sash belt sit across the middle of your child’s shoulder?
- Can your child stay seated correctly like this for the entire trip without slumping?
I know adults who aren’t 145cm, does that mean they have to sit in a car seat? (Insert sarcastic tone here)
Children’s bones start to ossify around 13-20 years of age so even if adults are not the recommended 145cm, their bones should be strong enough to withstand the force of a crash.
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