Car safety guide for kids: From birth to teens

kids car saftey

Road traffic incidents are one of the top causes of death among children and teenagers worldwide.

Yet they can be prevented, with research showing that the use of car seats reduces the risk of death by up to 75% and the severity of injuries by a huge 90%. Car seats are classified by a child's weight, age and height, so it's important to choose the correct one. Here's a guide to get you started.

Babies up to 15 months must sit in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the car. Never place a rear-facing seat in the front of a vehicle that has an active airbag. The back of the car is the safest place for children of any age, and in many countries it's the law until they reach 12 years old.

For toddlers up to 4 years old it's safest to remain in the back of the car, in a rear-facing seat, until they reach the weight limit of the seat, or the top of their head reaches above it. Don't worry if their feet press against the back of the car seat. 

Children up to 12 years old, or 135 centimetres in height, should sit in a car seat or booster when travelling in either the front or the back, with highback boosters offering the best protection. After age 12, they can wear an adult seat belt.

As many as 73% of car seats aren't installed or used correctly, so always follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you can, ask for a demonstration. Once installed, the seat shouldn't move and a child's head should never reach above it.

Car seats must meet minimum safety standards and this is usually indicated on the label. Look for an orange label, an 'E' mark or the digits R129, which ensure that your seat meets European Union or United Nations standards.