When my twins were babies, we drove them over to a local child seat safety inspection site and had them check to be sure our car seats had been installed properly and we were using them correctly. It gave us such peace of mind to know that we were doing all we could to keep our babies safe in the car.
New research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that child safety seat use is at an all-time high for children under the age of one. Last year, 99 percent of children ages 0-12 months old were secured, as were 92 percent of children ages 1-3 years old and 89 percent of 4-7 years-olds. (To view this new research, click here ).
Unfortunately, research also indicated that three out of every four seats are used incorrectly. This figure includes errors in securing the child in the child seat and errors in attaching the child seat to the car. Some specific examples include using the wrong child restraint based on age and weight; incorrect installation of restraint to the vehicle seat; harness straps buckled too loosely; incorrect attachment of the vehicle safety belt to the child restraint and loose fit of seat belts across children in belt-positioning booster seats.
“Every year hundreds of young lives are lost to automobile crashes,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said. “Parents and caregivers need to make sure they learn how to properly install child safety seats so their kids will be safe whenever they’re on the road.”
With this in mind, September 12-18, 2009, has been declared Child Passenger Safety Week. During this week, parents and caregivers can get their child safety seats checked at one of the thousands of free safety seat inspection stations set up across the country. Beginning with National Seat Check Saturday, September 12, English- and Spanish-speaking child passenger safety technicians will be on hand to answer questions and for help with proper installation of child safety seats. To find an inspection site near you, click here.
Even if you think you have your child properly buckled into his safety seat or have the seat installed correctly, I strongly encourage you to visit one of the inspection stations to be sure. When it comes to protecting our precious little ones, you can never be too careful.