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Car Seat Coalition on mission to remind

WINDER -- Barrow County Emergency Services and other Car Seat Coalition members are on a mission to keep recent changes in car seat laws fresh in parents' minds.

Effective July 1, children under age 8 must be restrained in a car seat or booster seat while riding in cars, vans, SUVs and pickup trucks, officials said.

The law states car and booster seats must be in the rear seat and appropriate to the child's age, weight and height, said department spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin.

Dakin said motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children from 3 to 14 years old. "Properly restraining children greatly increases the chances of children in this age group surviving an accident," he said.

Some recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

* Select a car seat based on your child's age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it always;

* Read the vehicle owner's manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system;

* Keep children the back seat at least through age 12.

"Your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there," said Dakin. "They should also need to ride in a booster seat when under 8."

Dakin released the following age-specific recommendations:

* Birth to 12 months

Children under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing parents to keep children rear-facing for a longer period of time.

* 1 to 3 years

Children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by a car seat's manufacturer. Once the child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they're ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

* 4 to 7 years

Keep children in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat's manufacturer. Once the child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

* 8 to 12 years

Keep children in a booster seat until they're big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.