Richland Public Health Highlights Car Seat Safety During Child Passenger Safety Week (CPS)
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, many are not — if they are buckled up at all. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of car seats are misused. To help combat this issue, NHTSA is sponsoring Child Passenger Safety Week from September 20-26, 2020, a campaign dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible—every trip, every time.
“From 2013 to 2017, there were 3,318 children 12 and younger killed in motor vehicle crashes; tragically, more than half of the children who died were racial minorities,” said Reed Richmond, Health Educator at Richland Public Health and a Child Passenger Safety Technician. “Using car seats that are age- and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your child safe.” According to NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children. Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can make all the difference.
Richmond added that, too often, parents move their children to the front seat before they should, which increases the risk of injury and death, even if they are buckled up. The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seat. Also, according to NHTSA, 25.8 percent of children 4 to 7, who should have been riding in booster seats, were prematurely moved to seat belts, and 11.6 percent were unbuckled altogether.
“Parents and caregivers want to keep their children safe,” Richmond said. “As Child Passenger Safety Technicians, it’s our job to help make certain car seats are installed correctly, and that your kids are in the right seats and are buckled in correctly. Even if you think your child is safe, check again, so you can be sure that your child is the safest he or she can be while traveling.”
To have your car seat install checked at Richland Public Health, call 419-774-4726, or the WIC Office at 419-774-4560 and ask to speak with the car seat technician. Installation checks usually take less than 10 minutes and all checks are done with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
“There’s a common misconception that you should go to a fire station, a police station or the State Highway Patrol office if you need your child car seat install checked,” Richmond said. “Actually, local law enforcement does not check car seat installs. The only certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians in Richland County are at Richland Public Health (where we have three certified technicians) and also at Third Street Family Health Services.”
NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height or weight allowed for their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing-only “infant” car seat, he/she should travel in a rear-facing “convertible,” or all-in-one, car seat. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing size limits, the child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and a tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat with harness, your child should be placed in a booster seat until he/she is the appropriate size to use a seat belt safely. And children under 13 should always sit in the back seat.
Remember to register your car seat or booster seat with the seat manufacturer so you can be notified in the event of a recall. Parents and caregivers can view more information on car seat safety on Richland Public Health’s website. See: richlandhealth.org/our-community/child-car-seat-program/ or see the links at www.nhtsa.gov/carseat.
Lives lost and injuries
- Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children.
- Every 32 seconds in 2018, one child under the age of 13 in a passenger vehicle was involved in a crash.
- From 2014 to 2018, there were 3,315 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles. Fatalities decreased from 2017 to 2018, a continuation of the 2016-2017 fatality decrease, which marked the first decrease since 2014.
- On average, nearly two children under 13 were killed every day in 2018 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.
- From 2014 to 2018, there were 1,158 “tweens” (8 to 12 years old) killed in passenger vehicles.
- In 2018, the 8-to-12 age group had the highest number of fatalities (222) among children in passenger vehicles. In 2017, the <1-to-3 age group had the highest number of fatalities at 249, or 37%, with a decrease to 219 (35%) in 2018.
- In 2018, approximately one-third (33%) of children under 13 killed in passenger vehicles were not restrained in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
- Of the children under 13 involved in crashes in 2018, an estimated 14% were injured.
- From 2017 to 2018, the number of children under 13 injured in a crash remained steady.
- Statistically, more crashes occur during “school hours” (during the day, Monday through Friday).
Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts save lives
- In 2017, among children under 5, car seats saved an estimated 312 lives. A total of 371 children could have survived if they had been buckled up 100% of the time.
Car seats work best when used correctly
- In passenger cars, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions were 58% and 59%, respectively.
- Most parents are confident that they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, but in most cases (59%), the seat has not been installed correctly.
- According to NHTSA data, in 2015, about 25.8% of children 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to seat belts, when they should have been riding in booster seats.
Child passenger safety laws
- For the past 30 years, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have had laws requiring children to be secured in the appropriate car seats or booster seats for their ages and sizes while riding in cars.
- States now require children to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until as old as age 9.
- Remember to read and carefully follow the installation instructions included with a car seat, as well as the vehicle owner’s manual. Failure to do this can lead to incorrect installation, exposing a child passenger to the risk of injury or death in a crash.
- All children under 13 should always ride in the back seat.
- Tethers should always be used for forward-facing car seats.
For the purpose of this document, the following terms and definitions are used:
- “Children killed/injured in car crashes” are defined as passenger car, van, pickup, and SUV passengers under 13 years old killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes; and
- “Tweens killed in car crashes” are defined as passenger car, van, pickup, and SUV passengers 8 to 12 years old killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes.