Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children 1 to 13 years old. Between 2008 and 2012, over 3,390 children were killed in car crashes, and approximately 613,000 were injured. Additionally, in 2012, more than one third of children killed in car crashes were not in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
September 14 to September 20, 2014, is Child Passenger Safety Week. The goal of Child Passenger Safety Week is to inform all parents about child car safety, and to ensure parents and caregivers correctly secure all children in the correct car restraints.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, communities may have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to educate caregivers on how to correctly use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children. Technicians can inform members of the community about choosing the right car seat for their child, the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer, and what to do if your car seat becomes subject to a safety recall.
The week concludes with National Seat Check Saturday on September 20. Though car crashes are a leading cause of death for children, most accidents and injuries can be prevented by correct car seat use. Car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants, and by 54 percents for toddlers in cars. In 2012, among children under the age of 5, an estimated 284 lives were saved by child restraints, and an additional 58 lives could have been saved if the car seat use was at 100 percent. All 50 states have laws requiring children to be restrained while riding in cars, with some states requiring children to ride in appropriate booster seats of car seats until age 9.
To get involved with Child Passenger Safety Week, visit the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Marketing website for a various resources and media. Available are banner ads for blogs and social media sites, infographics, flyers, fact sheets, posters, and presentations that bring awareness to child car seat safety and can be used to promote community events for Child Passenger Safety Week.
In preparation for Child Passenger Safety week, make sure you are using the correct car seat for your child.
- A child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat that is installed in the back seat. A rear-facing car seat has a harness, and in a crash it cradles and moves with the child to reduce the risk of stress to the child’s neck and spinal cord.
- Keep your child in the rear-facing seat as long as possible, until they exceed the height and weight limits for the seat. Next the child can use a forward-facing car seat, which has a harness and tether that limits the child’s forward movement in case of a crash.
- When the child exceeds the height and weight limitations for the forward-facing car seat, the child is ready for a booster seat. A booster seat allows the seat belt to fit properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body.
- Keep your child in a booster seat as long as possible until they a seat belt can fit them properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt should lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the chest and shoulder, and not across the neck or face.