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Child car seats can reduce injury and death by up to 71 percent when used correctly.

Child Passenger Safety

Child Passenger Safety

Why Car Seats?

Child car seats can reduce injury and death by up to 71 percent when used correctly.  Illinois law states that children under the age of 8 must travel in an approved child restraint. Use car seats correctly, not because it’s the law, but because they could save your child’s life.  In Illinois, 80 percent of child safety seats are not installed correctly, increasing risk for injury.  Learn how to use your car seat by carefully following directions in your car seat manual, and in your vehicle owner’s manual.  Consult a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician with further questions.  Technicians can be located by calling the NHTSA hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT or at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

CHAD: Children Have An Identity

As a result of a traffic crash involving a 13-month-old boy named Chad, a safety child identification program was developed.  This program encourages CHAD stickers to be placed on your child's car seat and provides rapid identification in case of an emergency.  Request your free CHAD sticker here. Select Child Passenger Safety.

Rear Facing Car Seats

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible.
  • Babies must be in a rear-facing car seat until at least 2 years old and at least 20 pounds.
  • Babies should ride in the back seat, facing the rear of the vehicle to protect their neck and spinal cord.
  • NEVER put a rear-facing seat in front of an active air bag.
  • Rear-facing car seats include infant seats and convertible seats.
  • For children more than 20 pounds, but not yet 1 year old, select a seat labeled for 30 pounds or larger.
  • Harness straps MUST be in lower slots at or below shoulders.
  • Recline rear-facing seats at a 30 to 45-degree angle, using a firmly rolled towel or pool noodle under the front of the seat if necessary. 
  • Keep shoulder straps snug, with the harness clip at armpit level.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

  • Children at least 1 year old and 20 pounds may use a forward-facing car seat, however the AAP recommends that children ride in rear-facing child safety seats as long as possible.  According to the AAP, toddlers are more than 5 times safer riding rear-facing in a convertible care safety seat until they reach the maximum height and weight recommendation for that particular model or at least to the age of 2.
  • Position forward-facing seats upright.
  • Consult instruction manual for proper adjustment of shoulder straps. Harness straps should be at or above the shoulders.
  • Keep harness straps snug.
  • Always use the harness clip at armpit level.
  • Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats need to use a belt-positioning booster seat.

Booster Seats

  • Children who have outgrown their forward-facing seat should be properly restrained in belt-positioning booster seats until they are at least 8 years old.
  • Small children are not developed enough to keep adult safety belts positioned safely.
  • A booster seat helps a lap and shoulder belt fit low on the hips and snug on the shoulder.
  • Booster seats are used with a shoulder-lap belt for children more than 40 pounds. 
  • High back booster seats offer shoulder strap adjusters and head support for use in vehicles without head restraints.
  • Booster seats MUST be used with BOTH lap and shoulder belts.

Safety Belts

  • Children under 13 years of age should ride in the back seat.
  • Children 4 feet 9 inches tall usually fit correctly in a lap/shoulder belt.
  • Lap and shoulder belts should fit low on the hips and snug over the shoulder.
  • Children should be tall enough to sit with knees bent at the edge of the seat without slouching.
  • According to Illinois law, everyone in the vehicle is required to be properly restrained no matter where they sit.  Make sure all passengers buckle up every trip, every time.
  • Never let children put a shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back.
  • All passengers in all positions in the vehicle must ALWAYS be properly restrained.
  • Children whose parents wear safety belts are more likely to continue using safety belts when they become drivers.

Use Your Car Seat Correctly!

  • The back seat is the safest place for a child of any age.
  • Follow your car seat manual and your vehicle owner’s manual for correct use.
  • Route the safety belt correctly through the car seat.
  • Get a TIGHT fit: the seat should not move more than 1 inch side to side if shaken at the belt path.  Tightness of the child's seat should be checked frequently. 
  • Consult a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to check for a correct fit.
  • Replace any car seat that has been in a crash.
  • Mail the car seat registration card to be notified of recalls. Recalls may also be checked by calling the National Highway Traffic Safety Hotline at 888-DASH-2-Dot.