September 18–24 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. Every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A large percentage of injuries to children from these motor- vehicle related accidents can be prevented with the proper education and safety.
Key Statistics for Child Passenger Safety
- In the United States, motor vehicle–related injuries are a leading cause of death among children. In 2014, a total of 602 passenger vehicle occupants aged 0–12 years died as a result of a crash.
- Of the children who died in 2014, 34% were known to be unrestrained.
- More than 121,350 passengers aged 0-12 were injured in a car crash.
Tips for Child Car Safety
To help reduce these numbers, and keep your children safe, here are tips and guidelines for child safety in cars outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Car Seat Safety
Birth – 12 months: Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
1 – 3 years: Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 – 7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 – 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
Seat Belt Safety
For your child to properly fit a seat belt, they must:
- Be tall enough to sit without slouching;
- Be able to keep his or her back against the vehicle seat;
- Be able to keep his or her knees naturally bent over the edge of the vehicle seat; and
- Be able to keep his or her feet flat on the floor.
How to Get Involved
Aside from following these tips and keeping your child safe, September 24th will be National Seat Check Saturday. On this day, drivers with children who ride in car seats or booster seats are encouraged to visit a child safety seat inspection station to have a certified technician inspect their car seat for proper installation and proper use free of charge.