Stephanie Tombrello: Hello, I am Stephanie Tombrello, Executive Director of SafetyBeltSafe U.
We are going to talk with you about how to keep your toddler or young child safe in the car.
Now we are going to talk about some of the features of vehicles made between 1996 and 2002 and how these features might affect how you transport your children.
One of the most important things that happened in 1996 is that lockability of safety belts became mandated by the Federal Government. So cars now have shoulder-lap belts that look like the ones made before but have an extra feature that make them capable of being locked. Instead of having to put a locking clip on many of these belts lock by pulling the shoulder belt all the way out to the very end and then as you let it go back, you can hear it ratcheting taking up the slack, and now it will stay tight and hold the car seat tightly in place for ordinary driving.
That's very good also for children who are going into booster seats after having been in tightly harness safety seats, by locking the belt on them it makes it easier for them to stay in position in the booster seat and not to get slack in the belt.
As we continue to talk about some of the features of vehicles between 1996 and 2002 we can't ignore the fact that there are passenger air bags in the front seats of vehicles. Since we do not recommend the children ride in the front seat most of the time that isn't a direct issue. However, there are vehicles that only have front seats or where the back seats are side-facing and you really can't put a safety seat on a side-facing vehicle seat.
In those cases you need to have a way to switch off the air bag especially and absolutely if you are going to put a child who is facing the rear in the front seat. If you don't there could be a fatality. If you are able to switch off the air bag and you don't have a suitable back seat then you may put a rear-facing child in the front seat.
Always remember that a child loses about 40% of his or her protection by riding in the front seat.
When I am talking with parents and people who are learning about child passenger safety, I often tell them that the best way to understand your own belt system is to go and pretend you are the car seat and feel how the belt system works.
When you have an emergency locking belt system like this, when you have it in the emergency locking mode can you see that I can move my upper and lower body but once I've got it in that ratchet mode and in the lock mode by pulling it all the way out; I can't move at all. I am a tightly attached safety seat.
Now we've talked about some of the features that might impact how you would put a safety seat or a child in a vehicle made between 1996 and 2002.
Next we are going to talk about vehicles made after 2002.