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Shared Custody? Make Sure You Practice Car Seat Safety

Saturday, 19 October 2013

car seat safetyIf you are recently separated or divorced in Colorado, shared custody is becoming quite a trend. Whether this means weekend visits, every other week, or a 50/50 split of parenting time, it is important that children are transported safely from one home to the other. Parents should be sure they are following the Colorado laws concerning child safety seats and seatbelt restraints. In fact, many custody agreements include language about child safety.

Why is car seat safety so important?

Motor vehicle crashes still kill more kids than any other cause of death - yet more than 90% of the children who attended safety seat checkups in Colorado last year were buckled up incorrectly. Make sure you are following the current laws and the safest practice for your child.

New booster seat laws went into effect in August 2011. Under this new law, children between 4 and 8 years old must use either a booster or car seat. Parents and caregivers who do not comply with this law could face a fine of $82. This law requires all children 8 years old and under to be properly restrained in any vehicle with a child restraint system.

Colorado law also requires infants up to age one to ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. Once children the age of one AND weighs at least 20 pounds they can ride in a front facing car seat.

What is the safest practice for rear-facing car seats?

Safety experts recommend that parents and caregivers use a rear-facing child safety seat as long as they can. Many convertible car seats are designed to face the rear until the child reaches 35 pounds. This type of car seat offers the best protection because in a frontal crash the whole body is cradled by the back of the safety seat. Rear-facing safety seats can also protect babies better in other types of crashes, particularly side impact.

Which type of child car seat should be used for 1 to 4 year old children

According to Colorado law, children who are older than one year old and weigh more than 20 pounds can sit in a rear or forward-facing car seat. The seat must have a five-point harness system until the child reaches 40 pounds. This type of restraint system has more places to distribute the forces of a crash, thereby offering better protection than a lap and shoulder belt.

Which type of child safety seat should be used for 4 to 8 year old children?

While children between 4 and 8 years old must continue riding in a child restraint, the guidelines are a little less stringent. Colorado law says that these kids can start riding in a booster seat, in the back seat of the car, using the vehicle's lap and shoulder belts. Until a child reaches the age of 8 and a height of 57" tall, they should be seated on a booster seat. Research has shown that booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent compared to seatbelts alone.

Children between the ages of 8 and 16 should remain in the back seat for as long as possible, or at least until the child is 13 years old and weighs 100 pounds. If your teenager insists on sitting in the front, put the seat as far back as possible in case the airbag deploys in an accident.

The importance of child car safety cannot be overemphasized. Parents who are divorcing in Colorado should be aware of these laws and how they could impact a child custody decision. All family members and caregivers must also abide by these laws, using age-appropriate car seats and restraints. Remember, family court judges must decide on custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. A parent who is negligent about child safety may have a difficult time convincing the judge that he or she is looking out for the child's best interests.

If you have questions about how to include child safety requirements in your custody agreement, ask a Colorado Springs family lawyer for advice.

Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net / ksutterman

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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