Safety Tips When Kids Ride Along

Vehicle accidents account for thousands of injuries to young childrenevery year. Safety is of the utmost importance when children are riding in any vehicle.

Despite numerous safety warnings, many drivers do not heed all of the precautions that can keep children safe and sound. The majority of safety guidelines focus on securing children within the vehicle.

* Any child under the age of 1, weighing 20 pounds or less, should be in a backward-facing child seat. The car seat should be located in the backseat, preferably in the center, unless the vehicle owner's manual states a different backseat location is more secure.

* Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of the vehicle. Passenger-side air bags can deploy and injure the infant.

* Young children can be moved to a forward-facing position after their first birthday and when he or she has surpassed 20 pounds. However, do not rush turning the seat. Rear-facing is still safer as long as it's comfortable for baby.

* Older children should sit in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat until they are tall enough to sit on the regular seat of the vehicle with their backs flush with the back of the seat and their knees bent naturally at the curve of the seat. Some states have different requirements regarding booster seat usage. It's best to find out what is applicable in the area for child safety and legal reasons.

* The back seat is the safest place for children to ride, and remains the safest place until kids become teenagers.

* Police and fire personnel often volunteer to assist drivers with the proper installation of child safety seats. Visit a local station to have installation double-checked or for assistance.