Albany - Georgia law requires any child under the age of 18 to be properly restrained by a safety belt.
Children under the age of six are also supposed to be in a safety seat and the state recommend children under four foot nine use a booster seat. Ninty-five percent of child safety seat are improperly installed.
Seat belts aren't designed to fit children with smaller bodies. They need help, a safety or booster seat, and parents should want their children in those seats as long as possible.
"With each step you take you actually reduce, you lose some safety so we want to keep children in the internal harness as long as we can, " said Michele DeMott, Safe Communities Coordinator.
Manufacturers now make seats with internal harnesses for children up to 65 pounds. At 30 pounds it will keep three year old Jay Austin secure.
"You want the harness retainer clip at the armpit level that's going to hold the harnesses onto his shoulders in the event of a crash and you want you shouldn't be able to pinch the material lengthwise that's the test that we use if you can pinch the material lengthwise it's not snug enough," said DeMott.
At five Jay's sister Mia has outgrown the internal restraint, but by using her booster seat, the regular seat belt is a perfect fit.
"What we're looking for is for it to come across her upper thigh and hip bones, come across her sternum and come across he shoulder. We don't want it to cut into her neck, that's why we've got the adjustable shoulder harness so that it's good and comfortable for her, but so that it's going to raise her up enough so the safety belt fits her properly," said DeMott.
That's key, a seat belt fitting you properly, if it rests across a child's belly it can create something Emergency Rooms call seat belt syndrome and cause internal injuries. The best rule of thumb is this.
"Before they go into a three point lap and shoulder belt they should be able to sit with their back against the back of the vehicle seat with their knees bent of the front of the vehicle seat and feet touching the floor and be able to sit that way for the entire ride," said DeMott.
If they can't, then they're not ready to give up that extra layer of protection that could mean the difference between life and death.
Experts say if you think it's cheaper to take a ticket than properly restrain your child think again. A reasonable child seat can cost as little as $40.00, a ticket will cost you $75.00.
If you can't afford a child safety seat you can get help to make sure your child is properly restrained.
In Baker, Dougherty, Seminole, Thomas, and Worth Counties the Health Departments and in Mitchell County, the Fire Department offers an hour long class on child safety restraints. The class is only $10.00 and at the end parents will receive a child safety seat.
You must have your child enrolled in Medicaid, Peach Care, or WICK to participate in the class.