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Give kids the best seat in the car

Sep. 15, 2012 @ 12:07 AM

When Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of NPR's "Car Talk," retire this fall, how will you ever know if it's safe to put three kids' car seats in the back of a Prius, Malibu, Volvo -- you name it? (It's amazing how many people have a 3-year-old and a new set of twins.)

Here's some other info we think still needs to be broadcast: Many of you aren't using car and booster seats at all, and 72 percent of those who do, don't have them installed correctly! That increases the risk of injury during a crash.

Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for children in the U.S. And still, around 618,000 kids 12 and younger are tooling around North American roadways -- at least some of the time -- without any kind of restraint at all! That's the opposite of smart! The right seat (installed correctly) cuts the risk of accidental death for infants in passenger cars by 71 percent, and 54 percent for 1- to 4-year-olds. So here's what you need to know:

Birth-2: use a rear-facing child safety seat

2-4 or up to 40 pounds: use a forward-facing child safety seat

4-8 or until the child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall: use a five-point harness booster seat

Older, taller kids can use seat belts if the lap belt goes across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (not the neck).

And all kids 12 or younger can ride most safely in the back seat, away from air bags.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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