Every year hundreds of children needlessly die as a result of being improperly restrained or not being restrained at all when riding in a car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 the fourth leading cause of death for toddlers age 1-3 was motor vehicle traffic crashes. For Children ages 4 through 7 it was the second leading cause of death and for children ages 8 through 15 it was the lead cause of death with more than 800 fatalities.
Child Passenger Safety Week starts on September 16; the week culminates with National Seat Check Saturday on September 22. The week is designated to increasing public awareness of the risks associated with transporting infants, toddlers and children in passenger vehicles and to help Americans find safe ways to do so.
Caregivers should follow these basic rules when transporting children:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12
Your local Fire Department may help caregivers properly install booster seats and car seats. If your fire department doesn’t have these services you can always check www.seatcheck.org or http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm for the free child safety seat inspection locator service. On National Seat Check Saturday there will be hundreds of locations around the US giving demonstrations and providing instructions on how to safely transport children and infants – check with NHTSA.gov to find out more.
Remember, you are the most important influence on your children, so buckle up and make sure your little ones are properly restrained too. You’ll instill good habits that will last a lifetime.