Every day in America, millions of parents and caregivers travel with children in their vehicles. While some children are buckled-in properly in the correct car seats for their ages and sizes – most are not, if they are buckled up at all. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46 percent of car seats are misused. To help combat this issue, Stanislaus County Health Services Agency (SCHSA) recently announced its participation in Child Passenger Safety Week, a NHTSA-sponsored campaign dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible – every trip, every time. Child Passenger Safety Week runs from Sept.15 through 21, with events hosted throughout the week to raise awareness about the dangers children face when they are not buckled up properly.
“On average, three children were killed in traffic crashes every day in 2017,” said Heather Duvall, Community Wellness and Prevention Manager for SCHSA. “Using car seats that are age- and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your children safe.”
According to NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children, and fatalities are on the rise. Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can make all the difference.
“In 2017, there were 325 children under the age of five saved because they were in a car seat,” Duvall said. “Car seats matter and using them the right way is critical.”
It is important to review the owner’s manual and car seat labels to understand the specifications of each car seat. The most common misuse of child safety seats is progressing a child to the next seat before it is necessary.
“It’s our job to keep our children safe,” Duvall said. “Get your car seats checked. Make certain they’re installed correctly, and that your children are in the right seats and are buckled in properly. Even if you think your child’s car seat is installed correctly, get it checked with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician so you can be sure that your child is the safest he or she can be while traveling.”
NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible or at least until two years old. Children can transition to a booster seat when they’ve outgrown their car seat and should remain in a booster until they are 4’9” tall. Even once a child has outgrown a booster, they should ride in the back seat of the vehicle until they are 13 years old. Parents and caregivers can view more information on car seat safety and locate a certified technician at www.nhtsa.gov/carseat.
Additionally, always remember to register your car seat and booster seat with the car seat manufacturer so you can be notified in the event of a recall.
Car seat inspection events are scheduled throughout the year. For more information on car seat safety classes and car seat inspection events, call the Keep Baby Safe Program at 209-558-5657.
Funding for this child safety seat program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the NHTSA.