It’s a topic that no parent wants to think about but the leading cause of death for children in the United States is injuries caused during a motor vehicle accident. Realizing that every 33 seconds a child under the age of 13 is involved in an accident, it’s no wonder the NHTSA has made it a priority to create National Child Safety Passenger Awareness Week to help share important info with parents and give them the best chance of keeping their children as safe as they can be while in a vehicle.
Use The Proper Seat
Knowing whether your child should be sitting in a rear-facing car seat, forward facing car seat, booster seat or old enough to sit without one is paramount in keeping your child safe and could be the difference in an accident causing serious injuries or even a fatality. The current Michigan regulations regarding car seats safety state:
- Children under 4 years: must be secured in a child restraint in the rear seat of the vehicle -Infants should ride rear-facing until at least 1 year and 20 pounds.
- Children 4 – 8 years OR under 4 feet 9 inches: must be secured in a child restraint – Booster seats must be used with the vehicle’s lap & shoulder belt. Children should remain in a booster seat until they are about 4 feet 9 inches tall.
- Children 8 -16 years, drivers & front seat passengers: must wear a safety belt
Having the correct seat for your child is a great start but if it’s not installed correctly into the vehicle, it can’t do what it’s been designed to do and in turn, your child could be in danger. And realizing that experts estimate that up to 95% of car seats are installed incorrectly, means that parents need to do more than they are already doing to ensure their child’s safety. To begin, follow the instructions in the car seat or booster seat’s owners manual for how they recommend installing the seat and for usage. Additionally, utilizing car seat installation checks at your local police or fire station can ease your mind and verify everything has been done properly.
Pay Attention To Expiration Dates
It may come as a surprise to many parents but much like baby food or their child’s medicines, their car seat or booster seat also have an expiration date. This is caused by the breakdown of materials used in the car seat, including the plastic that can be damaged by heat or sun and metal that can begin to show wear or develop rust. In addition, technology is ever evolving, with advancements in safety and best practices are constantly changing.
While parents may strive to keep their children as safe as possible, many are overlooking one of the biggest safety assets that comes standard in their vehicle. Yet studies suggest that approximately 21% of parents believe that it is safe to drive without their child buckled up in the vehicle, particularly if it is a short trip close to home or overnight. Which is shocking when you consider that out of children 12 years or younger who were killed in an auto accident in one year, 35% were not buckled up and may have survived if they had been properly restrained. The easiest and best way that parents can increase their child’s chance of survival in the unfortunate event of a car accident is to make sure they are buckled every single time before the vehicle begins to move, no exceptions. And one of the best ways parents can help teach their kids to use their seat belt every time is to be a positive role model to them by doing the same. Now that’s a lesson that could help save not only your life but their life as well!
Kids are curious creatures and may be tempted to push buttons, move levers or turn knobs if left alone in a vehicle. But doing so while the keys are in the ignition or while it is running with the driver is not in it can create a situation where the vehicle gets put into motion, or worse yet the vehicle stolen while your child is still in it. Never leave kids unattended in a vehicle, particularly when it is hot outside and their risk of being exposed to extreme temperatures is possible.
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