Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Home / News and Events / News Releases / Children's Hospital Celebrates National Child Passenger Safety Week 2014
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Children's Hospital Celebrates National Child Passenger Safety Week 2014
September 15, 2014
Media Contact:
Ashley Culver
(615) 322-4747

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 12 years old, and three out of four children are not properly secured in their car seats, according to the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Car seats help keep children safe. If used correctly, they reduce the chance of death by 71 percent. Many people don’t realize that nearly 75 percent of car seats installed in Tennessee are not installed correctly, said Barb Shultz, R.N., administrative director for Surgical Services at Children’s Hospital.

“Car seats can be harder than they look to install because there are so many different seats, different cars and they may not be compatible.  Reading the instructions on the seat and the car manual is important, but there are experts in our communities to help us,” Shultz said.

Shultz offers the following safety tips to ensure your child is secured properly:

  • Have your car seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician.  
  • Make sure that all passengers are properly restrained in your vehicle. Do not let a child ride without the appropriate car seat or seat belt.
  • Children under 12 should remain in the back seat.
  • When properly installed, car seats should not move more than 1 inch side-to-side and front-to-back.
  • The harness clip should be level with the child's armpit.
  • Review and stay up to date on the Tennessee Child Restraint Law.


  • A child must remain rear facing until at least 1 year and 20 pounds, although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends remaining rear-facing as long as possible until your child reaches the upper weight limit of a convertible car seat.
  • In a rear-facing car seat, the shoulder straps should be at or below the child's shoulders. 
  • A rear-facing car seat should never be placed in front of an active airbag.


  • A child may use a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness when they reach a minimum of 1 year and 20 pounds.
  • A child must remain in a car seat with a 5-point harness until they reach 4 years and 40 pounds.
  • In a forward-facing car seat, the harness straps should be at or above the child's shoulders.

Young Children

  • Children may come out of their 5-point harness at age 4 and 40 pounds and move into a belt positioning booster seat.
  • A belt positioning booster seat must be used with both lap and shoulder belts and should be placed in the back seat of the car.
  • A child fits appropriately in a booster seat when the lap belt sits low and snug across the hips and the shoulder belt crosses the chest and shoulder (not the neck or face).
  • All children 12 and under should sit in the back seat.


  • In Tennessee, a child must be 9 years old and 4 feet, 9 inches tall to use the lap/shoulder belt without a belt positioning booster seat. 
  • To make sure a child is ready for an adult safety belt, he should be able to:
    1. Sit all the way back in the seat with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    2. The lap belt should fit low and snug across the upper thighs or hips and the shoulder belt should cross the chest and shoulder.
    3. Maintain the correct seating position for as long as you are in the car. This means a child should not slouch or shift positions to make the belt touch his face, neck or stomach.
    4. If your child passes this test, he is ready to ride in the car without a booster seat.

Shultz says that parents can be great examples to their children.  “We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts too,” said Shultz. “It is important to set a good example and buckle up for every ride and be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up too.”

For additional car seat safety information, visit

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