Car Seats and Kids: Tips and Facts on Road Safety for Child Passenger Safety Week
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Anyone with young kids knows that proper use of car seats, and the laws regarding their use, can be confusing. Forward facing, rear facing and for how long? What are the different car seat options, and are certain cars safer to drive with kids than others?
To help answer some of these questions, National Child Passenger Safety Week takes place beginning Sept. 19, ending with National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 25.
To commemorate the week, here are some facts and statistics about car seats and driving safely with kids.
Once children outgrow the rear-facing car seat, they are ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
Statistics about kids and cars
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for children. In 2019, an average two children under 13 were killed every day while riding in a vehicle, and about 374 per day were injured.
Further stats reveal that a total of 608 child passengers died in traffic accidents in 2019. Unfortunately, 38% who died were unrestrained, which was an increase from 33% in 2018. These deaths may be preventable in some cases if proper safety measures are taken.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, there is a deadly misconception that some vehicles offer better protection for your child. In fact, in 2019, about 47% of unrestrained children killed in car accidents were riding in vans, followed by SUVs (42%), and light trucks (42%).
No matter the vehicle type, children are safest when they are correctly secured in the right car seats or booster seats for their ages and sizes.
Car seats for younger children
If you have children, it’s always a good idea to consider if you are following proper safety precautions when driving in a vehicle. One of the easiest ways is to make sure your child is in the right car seat for their age and size, and that it is installed correctly.
The NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height and weight allowed by their particular seats. Once children outgrow the rear-facing car seat, they are ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.
Luckily, you can input your child’s birthday, height, and weight here to get recommendations on car seats, how your child should be sitting, and how to get help installing a car seat if you need it. There are certified technicians across the country who can help you with this.
After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, children should travel in a booster seat until they are tall enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
Booster seats are important because they position the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. When your child is ready for a seat belt, make sure that it fits correctly.
And always remember that the safest for all kids under 13 is buckled up in the back seat.
Safety Check Saturday for car seats is Sept. 25
While the COVID-19 pandemic may change the availability of the certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians, they may be available in your community. Some areas even hold safety check events on Sept. 25. These technicians explain how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts correctly—free of charge.
Find out if a technician is available in your community via NHTSA. You can also check for virtual appointment availability in your community by selecting the option under the Car Seat Inspection finder on the website.