Children ride in vehicles every day, and many may be at risk of injury because their car seats have been installed incorrectly or are the wrong type for their age and size.
New figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that 59 percent of car seats are misused. With these statistics in mind, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is participating in the NHTSA’s Child Passenger Safety Week campaign from Sept. 18-24. This campaign is dedicated to helping parents and caregivers ensure that their children ride as safely as possible every time they get into a vehicle.
“No trip should turn tragic because a car seat wasn’t used correctly,” said Katie Hokanson, director of Trauma and Injury Prevention at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Using size- and age-appropriate car seats is the best way to keep children in Indiana safe while on the road.”
Parents are urged to understand how each car seat or booster works and to ensure that children are safely secured on every trip. The safest place for all children under the age of 13 is in the back seat of a vehicle. Moving children from the back seat to the front prematurely increases the risk of injury and death. NHTSA recommends keeping children in rear-facing car seats until they reach the maximum height or weight allowed by the seat. Once a child outgrows a rear-facing seat, he or she can travel in a forward-facing car seat with harness and tether.
Children should not be placed in a booster seat until they have outgrown the forward-facing car seat and can sit upright for the entire trip with their back against the seat. The seat belt should fit across the upper thighs and across the shoulder and chest.
Understanding the guidance for child safety seats and ensuring that all car seats are properly installed can save lives, Hokanson said. NHTSA estimates that more than 500 children under the age of 5 were saved by car seats and restraints in 2014.
“Children are our most precious cargo, so take time to make sure you’re using the right car seats, that they are installed correctly and that your children are buckled in correctly,” Hokanson said.
For more information on car seat safety and to locate a certified car seat technician to schedule an inspection, go towww.safercar.gov/parents.