The theme for the 2012 Child Passenger Safety Week encourages parents and caregivers to “put them in the right seat at the right time and use it the right way” and raises awareness about the proper use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children from birth through age 12.
“The importance of properly securing your child in a vehicle cannot be understated,” said Charlotte Floravit, Elk Regional’s Public Relations Director. “Using the correct car seat for infants and toddlers sharply reduces the chance of fatal injury as a result of a car accident.”
According to the state DOT, there are more than 340 crashes on state highways on an average day in Pennsylvania. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children between the ages of one and 12.
According to the NHTSA, 75 percent of children are not as secure in the car as they should be because their car seats are not being used correctly. Ensuring that children are properly buckled into a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt is the single most effective way to protect vehicle occupants and to reduce child fatalities in a crash.
Parents and caregivers should use the best safety restraint for the child’s size, taking into account the child’s age, height, weight, physical development, and behavioral needs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made the following recommendations to ensure that child safety restraints are being used properly:
- All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are two years of age or until they reach the maximum height and weight allowed by the manufacturer of the car safety seat.
- All children who are two years of age or older, and those younger than two years who have outgrown the rear-facing car safety seat should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness until they reach the maximum height and weight allowed by the manufacturer of the car safety seat.
- All children whose height or weight exceeds the maximums allowed by the manufacturer of the car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly.
- Children between the ages of eight and 12 who have reached a height of four feet nine inches are able to use the vehicle’s lap-and-shoulder seat belt. The lap-and-shoulder seat belt should be used every time the child is in the vehicle.
Those who are unable to afford a car seat can call 1 (800) 227-2358, or visit www.pakidstravelsafe.org to find the nearest car seat loan program, child safety seat inspection station, or car seat check event.