Car accidents are a leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries among children across the United States. There are several steps you can take to safeguard your children and prevent injuries in the event of an accident, such as using appropriate child safety seats and driving in a safe manner at all times. Unfortunately, not all car accidents are preventable, as you cannot control the behavior of other drivers on the road. However, if you take some simple but critical safety measures, you can increase your child’s chance of emerging from an accident without injury.

Use an Age Appropriate Car Seat

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car seats reduce the risk of death for infants by an astonishing 71 percent and toddlers by approximately 54 percent. Booster seats continue to protect children ages four through eight, reducing the risk of death by about 45 percent, while seat belt use in older children reduces the risk of death by approximately half.

The first step to keep your child safe involves selecting, and properly using, an age appropriate child seat. According to the CDC, children two years and younger should be placed in a rear-facing car seat. Children ages two through five can be placed in a convertible seat that faces forward. Thereafter, children should use a booster seat until they are large and mature enough to wear a seat belt properly. Remember to always check the maximum weight and height limits on your child’s seat to ensure a safe fit.

Place Your Child in Appropriate Areas

Children twelve years and younger must be seated in the backseat at all times. In fact, placing young children in the front seat can increase the risk of death in the event of a crash due to the force of the airbag. Car seat safety experts generally feel that the middle seat is the safest spot for your child in the event of an accident. However, you should follow your vehicle and car seat manufacturer’s guidelines. Some manufacturers will recommend a different location due to vehicle safety features or other factors.

Require All Children to Wear Seat Belts

Generally, the law will no longer require a child be in a booster seat when they are over 57 inches and the seat belt fits them properly. There is evidence to support that keeping your child in a booster seat longer can be of benefit, but parents that elect to forego the booster seat should ensure the seat belt fits properly. Always make sure your child is buckled before starting your engine.