National Child Passenger Safety Week: Tips on Child Safety Seats

child safety seats

National Child Passenger Safety Week takes place from Sept. 23-29, 2019 and draws attention to proper child car seat use. Car seats are proven to reduce a child’s risk of injury and death in a car accident, yet many parents still don’t use them or use them incorrectly. Here’s why it’s important to use a child safety seat and to make sure it’s installed properly.

Child Car Seats Save Young Lives

Car crashes are a leading cause of death among children and teens. Despite clear evidence that child car seats save lives, the number of children riding unrestrained in vehicles remains alarmingly high. 

A CDC study in 2012 found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in 2017, 37% of children under age 15 killed in car accidents were unrestrained. 

Many of these deaths may have been avoided with a seat restraint. Car seats reduce the incidents of death among infants under 1-year old by up to 71% and by 54% for toddlers aged 1-4 years old. 

Child Car Seat Safety Tips

National Child Passenger Safety Week highlights the proper use of car seats. Here are four tips around child car seat safety.

1.  Find the right seat

When buying a car seat, a child’s age, weight, and height should all be taken into account to ensure the safety harness fits properly. A good rule of thumb is the following:

  • Use a rear-facing car seat for newborns up to 12 months. You can, however, keep them in a rear-facing seat up to 3 years old. 
  • From age 4-9, children can switch to forward-facing seats.
  • Once they outgrow the forward-facing seat, install a booster seat. 
  • Only when they reach a height of approximately 4 feet 9 inches (between 8 and 12 years old) are they ready to use the vehicle’s seatbelt

2.  Install the car seat properly

Installing a car seat should be done correctly for it to be effective. It is estimated that almost 59% of car seats and 20% of booster seats are not installed properly. This means that even if your child is strapped in, they can still sustain an injury if the car seat is not installed properly. 

To have your car seat inspected and adjusted, visit your nearest certified Child Passenger Safety Technician or attend a National Seat Check Saturday event on Sept, 29. 

3.  Beware of car seat hazards

Many toddlers resist the car seat. They’ll try to wiggle or slide out of their seat or push the seat belt over their head. This distracts you as the driver and places your child in danger. A distracted driver is more likely to cause a crash and a child that isn’t secure in their car seat can be seriously injured or killed. 

The seat belt can also become a hazard and get wrapped around a child’s neck. Make sure your child is safely secure in the car seat, and do not ever leave them alone in the car. If your kid hates the car seat, these tips can help. 

4.  Set the right example by buckling up yourself

Statistics show that almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers are also unrestrained. Children like to copy their parents’ behavior. If you have a child that objects to being strapped in, showing them that mommy and daddy also buckle up can help persuade them. 

Don’t become a statistic. While you can’t control what happens on the road, you can take steps to keep your family safe. Using the car safety seat correctly can save your child’s life.