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Study Finds Many Kids Use Car Seats Improperly

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - Proper car seat use is a problem for kids in the United States, a new study suggests, with many parents ignoring or unaware of current guidelines that ensure a child’s safety in the risk of a vehicle accident.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children older than 3 in the U.S. and cause another 179,000 child injuries each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, child safety seats cut death risk by 71 percent for infant passengers and 54 percent for toddlers between the ages of 1 and 4 — if they are used properly.

Recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics call for exclusive use of rear-facing car seats in infants and toddlers until they reach 2 (or exceed the seat’s weight or height maximums), followed by forward-facing car seats for kids older than 2 until they grow out of them based on the manufacturers’ specifications.

School-aged kids who are too big for a forward-facing car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat, says the academy, until a seat belt fits properly, typically when the child is 4 feet 9 inches or between 8 and 12 years old. Older kids are recommended to use seat belts in the back seat of a car until they reach 13, an age the academy considers safe for teens to move to the front seat.

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