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OUR VIEW: Check your child’s car seat

Next week is Child Passenger Safety Week, a good reminder of the importance of properly-functioning, safe car seats for our youth.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children.

On average, two children under 13 were killed and an estimated 374 were injured every day in 2019 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.

Unfortunately, in too many of those cases, the child was unrestrained.

A total of 608 children died in car crashes in 2019, and 38% of them were unrestrained.

The department of transportation has specific recommendations on car seats for children.

  • Children under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat, per USDT. 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. A rear-facing car seat is the best seat for your young child to use. It has a harness and in a crash, cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.
  • The USDT recommends keeping your child rear-facing as long as possible, as 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 in the back seat. A forward-facing car seat has a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash.
  • The USDT recommends keeping 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. A booster seat positions the seat belt so that its properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body.
  • Per USDT, keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to ride in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to ¬function 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. A seat belt should lie across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest to restrain the child safely in a crash. It should not rest on the stomach area or across the neck. If you have a young child, check their car seat this week to ensure it is working properly. Our children are precious cargo, and we want to ensure they stay safe in a vehicle.

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