Protect Your Child in an Alaska Car Accident: Tips on Four Car Seat Stages

Children are among the most vulnerable occupants in a vehicle, since their size and physical development affect how well their bodies can withstand the impact of a car accident. Unfortunately, data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that far too many children do not receive adequate protection through use of proper safety restraints. Of the 675 individuals aged 12 years and younger who were killed in vehicle crashes in 2017:

  • 45% of victims 8 to12 years old were not wearing seat belts;
  • One-third of 4 to 7 year-olds who died were not restrained in a proper car seat; and,
  • More than one in five children under age 4 were not secured in a restraint device suitable for their age, height, and/or weight.


These statistics should convince you that safety restraints are essential for younger occupants in your vehicle, but there is another figure that is critical: An estimated 46% of car seats are not being used as intended, negating the protection benefits you might expect. Proper safety and protection from Alaska car accidents starts with choosing the right restraint device for your child, based upon four different phases.

  • Rear-Facing Seats: Infants to toddlers around two years old need extra support for the head, neck, and spine, which is the focus of these restraint seats. They should always be strapped in the back seat, facing the rear to protect the baby from force and debris coming from the front. At approximately 35 pounds or according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it is time to graduate to the next stage.
  • Forward-Facing Chairs: Though still in the back, these seats face forward and sit upright to accommodate older children at roughly 40 to 65 pounds. Your child has a more developed musculoskeletal system at this stage, but still needs support from an internal harness that comes down over the head. Resting on the chest and across the lap, the straps will limit movement and evenly distribute force throughout the body.
  • Booster Seats: These seats build up the factory-installed seat belts in your vehicle, adjusting the harness to better fit children from 4 to 8 years old – though you still need to check manufacturer’s documentation for specifics. Adult seat belts rest too high on the body of smaller individuals, so they could cause neck, spinal cord, or abdominal injuries
  • Manufacturer Standard Seat Belts: Alaska law includes special provisions regarding children from 4 to 8 years old. If your child is over 57 inches tall and weighs more than 65 pounds, he or she can use your vehicle’s seat belts; the law requires booster seats for those under these levels. Note that all children under 16 years old must buckle up in any vehicle.


Talk to an Anchorage, Alaska Car Accident Attorney About Your Situation

Though these four stages should guide you in choosing the right restraint for your child, car seats do not prevent auto collisions. If your child was injured in a crash, there are remedies available for parents on behalf of their children under Alaska law. To learn more about them, please contact Power & Power Law in Anchorage.