- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

The leading cause of death for children from 6 to 14 years old is a traffic accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Crashes kill six out of 10 children who are not restrained in child safety seats.
Fortunately, improving safety is an ever-increasing trend at auto manufacturers, such as Honda, as well as at auto accessory stores where products like BabyVue are great for checking on your youngsters. A minicamera focuses on the back seat area and displays the image on a small screen below a wide-angle rearview mirror that replaces your original mirror.
Most drivers know that buckling up and using a child safety seat when children are traveling along is plain common sense, but the NHTSA says that most children riding in special seats are not properly restrained. The seats may be too small, have no head support, or might be belted in the wrong positions. For infants, the NHTSA advises that only rear-facing seats should be used, in particular to protect the spine.
For toddlers, convertible seats that can be forward- or rear-facing are best, and for preschoolers, booster seats that raise your child higher from the back seat itself are recommended. You can also buy a youth car seat for in-between sizes. The seats have a five-point harness that can be removed as the child grows, turning the youth seat into a booster seat.
The ideal spot to place a child safety seat is in the middle of the back seat. All children under 12 should ride in the back seat.
Most new cars have child-detecting sensors in their front-passenger equipment, but it's still safest to keep your children in the back until they're teen-agers.
When children outgrow baby car seats, at around 40 pounds, they should be transferred to a booster seat until they're big enough to fit into an adult seat belt, at around 80 pounds and 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
The average baby weighs 20 pounds at nine months, and 22 pounds at 1 year. A child under 80 pounds is generally too small to use the standard adult seat belt that is part of the vehicle's equipment because the belt tends to ride up over a child's stomach and cut across the neck. In a crash, this position can cause critical and even fatal injuries.
Honda is among several car companies eager to help buyers and current owners evaluate a vehicle for compatibility with quality child safety seats. Here are some of Honda's tips for parents buying a new car:
Take your child's safety seat and its installation instruction manual with you to the dealership to see if the seat will fit properly in the car you're considering.
Look for a car with a relatively flat back seat and high head restraints to support a child's head at least up to the ears. Babies have heavy heads and weak necks with soft bones and stretchy ligaments, so head support is critical.
Avoid heavily contoured seats, bucket seats, and scooped out seats. It is difficult to accommodate car seats or booster seats on these types of seats.
It's easier to install a child's seat if the vehicle's seat belts come out from the area between the seatback and seat cushion rather than from the seat itself.
Make sure that every seat has both a shoulder and a lap belt.
Check if the new vehicle has tether rings to hold additional straps for a child seat.
Ask the salesperson to demonstrate how your child's safety seat will lock into place.
If you're buying a used car, you may need to buy a locking clip, which can usually be ordered from a dealer. Before sitting your children in the back seat of the car, know which vehicles have good rear-seat safety ratings.
Among 2001 sedans and minivans that are highly rated in this category are Mazda's Protege, Saturn's SL, Toyota's Echo, Buick's LeSabre, Lincoln's LS, Audi's A8, Volvo's S80, Ford's Windstar, Honda's Odyssey and Toyota's Sienna. To check out your car's or truck's ratings, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov. If you want more information on vehicular safety products for children, go to https://enjoythedrive.com and click on the Keep Kids Safe section.
MOTOR MATTERS


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