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Why are seat belts not enough protection for small children?

Many parents think back to the days when they were little and may not have been required to sit in a car seat when riding in a vehicle. If you are one of these parents in California, you may wonder why there are so many laws requiring car seat use today. You may also wonder why kids cannot just be put in a seat belt. After all, if it is good enough for you, then it should work for them, too, right? Wrong. 

According to US News and World Report, seat belts are designed specifically for adults and cannot provide the same protection to children. A seat belt is created to fall at certain points on the body. It should hit at the hips and run across the body to hit at the shoulder. These points can withstand the force of an impact better than other points of the body. Plus, this design creates the best distribution of force to enable your body to withstand the impact. For a child, though, the seat belt will not fall in the correct places. The shoulder strap may go over the child's face or cut into his or her neck. The lap belt often falls over the stomach. These locations are not safe and can lead to serious injury in an accident.

A car seat is made for the small bodies of a child. The five-point harness system used in car seats helps to disburse the force from an impact over the whole body, which greatly reduces the chances of severe injury. In addition, the seat offers protection for the underdeveloped neck, spine and head. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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