As part of an annual awareness campaign, federal highway safety officials are trying to make sure parents and caregivers recognize the importance of properly using car seats and booster seats for their children.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the upcoming Child Passenger Safety Week campaign will highlight the risks associated with improperly fitted or installed car seats, as many parents and caregivers begin to drive young children to and from school and daycare on a daily basis.
The campaign is set to run nationwide from September 15 through September 21, as part of the annual effort to mitigate preventable injuries to children.
Unintentional injury is the most common cause of death among children, with the most common cause of unintentional injury being car accidents. From 2013 to 2017, 3,313 children under the age of 13 years of age were killed while riding in passenger vehicles.
Motor vehicle accidents resulting in child deaths increased consecutively from 2014 to 2017. Despite a decline in 2017, officials found that about 37% of those killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. The data indicates every one of these deaths could have been prevented had the proper safety precautions been followed.
NHTSA officials state that the easiest way to keep children safe is by properly sizing and installing car seats and booster seats. By following these simple and critical safety recommendations, NHTSA projects a child’s risk of fatality is reduced by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers.
As part of the national campaign, NHTSA officials are recommending parents and caregivers who travel in vehicles with children visit their local Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to double-check that their car seats and booster seats are properly installed. NHTSA has created a tool to help caregivers locate their nearest center.
The NHTSA advises parents and caregivers to place children in a rear-facing car seat from birth until three years old, or until they outgrow rear-facing seats. They should be placed in a forward facing seat until they reach the heat or weight limit allowed by the car manufacturer, usually from age’s four to seven.
After outgrowing forward-facing seats, the NHTSA recommends parents and caregivers then use a booster seat until a seat belt fits them properly, which means the lap belt should lie snugly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the shoulder and chest instead of across the neck or face.
The campaign also encourages parents and guardians to make sure their child’s car and booster seats are registered with its manufacture to ensure they receive important safety and recall information.