Did you know car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13? Every year, more than 100,000 children under the age of 13 are injured in traffic crashes. Car seats can not prevent collisions, but they can reduce the risk of injuries if a child is in an age-appropriate car seat that is installed correctly.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than a third of all kids under 13 killed in car crashes were not in an appropriate car seat or buckled up.
To increase awareness about child passenger safety in our communities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promotes Child Passenger Safety Week September 23rd through the 29th. The NHTSA created a toolkit of free resources to share with parents and caregivers. Car seat events will also be available throughout the week to provide the public with safety tips and safety inspections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car seats and boosters reduce the chance of infant and toddler fatalities by 71 percent and 54 percent. Most parents and caregivers do their best to follow safety laws but according to the NHTSA, most kids are not as secure in their car seats or boosters as parents and caregivers think they are because they are not being used correctly.
To make sure a child is in the proper car seat and that it is installed properly, the NHTSA recommends the following:
- Read the instructions: adjust the car seat’s harness for a good fit. Also, make sure the retainer clip is at armpit level to prevent abdominal injuries in case of a collision.
- If a car is involved in a moderate or severe crash, it should be replaced. Most car insurance policies cover car seat replacements.
- Keep children in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until the child reaches the car seat manufacturer’s allowed height or weight limit. Once a child outgrows a car seat, transition him or her to a booster seat.
- Keep child in booster seat until the seat belt fits properly. The lap belt must be snug across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt should be snug across the shoulder and chest.
- When child outgrows a booster, make sure a seat belt is still used every time they get in a car.
- Until a child is 12 years old, it is never safe to ride in the front passenger seat. Air bags can kill young children.
According to a study by the Journal of Pediatrics, babies are at risk for asphyxiation in car seats and should not be left in them for more than two hours at a time. Infants should also never nap in a car seat outside a car.
In Illinios, under the Child Passenger Protection Act, all children under the age of 8 must be secured in appropriate child safety restrain systems. If a car does not have lap and shoulder seat belts, a child weighing more than 40 pounds can ride in the back seat without a booster, with a lap belt only. As of January 1st, children must remain in rear-facing car seats until the age of two unless they weigh more than 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches tall.
Under the same act, if a driver fails to properly restrain a child, he or she will be fined $75 for the first offencs and $200 for a second offense.
To ensure child safety in, the Illinois Secretary of State also provides educational presentations. The presentations discuss the different types of car seats and when they should be used, basic car seat installation, crash statistics, child safety laws and the importance of using a seat belt properly. The Secretary of State’s office also offers car seat inspections by certified technicians at facilities throughout the state as part of the Keep Me In A Safe Seat Program.
In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, AAA is also offering free car seat inspections.
Finding the perfect car seat is not the only struggle parents face are up against. Car.com’s 2018 Car Seat Check Honor Roll found that only nine percent of vehicles earned a perfect score. Car.com evaluated 2018 and 2019 model-year cars and assessed the vehicle’s latch system, ease of use for infant car seats, rear-facing convertible seats, forward-facing convertible seats and booster seats.