Child seat safety week approaches

MONTROSE — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office announced today that it is working alongside the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for Child Passenger Safety Week, September 19-25, 2021. The week is dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about the importance of correctly choosing, installing, and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.

We at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office know that life can get hectic. We encourage you to take an hour or so out of this safety week to double and triple check your child’s car seat or booster seat, and ensure that it’s the correct seat for your child’s age and size, and that it’s installed correctly.

“We know parents and caregivers have a lot on their plates, so we hope that Child Passenger Safety Week will provide an opportunity for parents and caregivers to take a little time to ensure their child is as safe as possible when in a car, truck, or SUV” said Captain Craig Burch. “Sadly, two children under 13 were killed every day in 2019 while riding in vehicles. No parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to a child’s safety. Parents: Don’t think you know, know you know that your kids are secured correctly in their car seats.” 

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children, and the latest research from NHTSA shows that nearly half (46%) of car seats are misused. Captain Craig Burch added that using age- and size-appropriate car seats and installing them correctly are the best ways to reduce these deaths. “More than one-third of children 12 and younger who died in crashes in 2019 while riding in cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs were unbuckled. Many of those kids could have survived if they had been buckled up.”

From 2015 to 2019, there were 1,709 “tweens” (8 to 14 years old) killed in passenger vehicles, and in 2019 alone, the 8-12-year-old age group had the highest number of fatalities (229) among children in passenger vehicles. It is critical that parents and caregivers ensure that, if a child is too large or old for a car seat, they are first put into a booster seat until the seat belt can fit correctly.

Car Seats Versus Booster Seats

There is also a deadly misconception that a certain type of vehicle may offer greater protection for your child. In 2019, 47% of unrestrained children killed in vehicle crashes were riding in vans, followed closely by SUVs (42%), and light trucks (42%). Children are safest when correctly secured in the right car seat or booster seat for their age and size — and no matter the vehicle type. No matter how safe you think your vehicle may be, it is never safe, nor legal, to let your child ride unbuckled.

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height and weight allowed by the particular seats. It’s the best way to keep them safe. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, a child should be placed in a booster seat until tall enough to fit in a seat belt properly.

Booster seats are an essential step between car seats and seat belts. These transitional seats position the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Don’t feel pressured to put your child in a seat belt too soon. If your child is ready to use a seat belt, ensure the seat belt fits correctly. Bottom line: The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seat.

Learn About Car Seat Safety Virtually

Child Passenger Safety Week ends with National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 25. You can find out if a Technician is available in your community by virtual appointment by visiting https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats#install-inspection.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and NHTSA hope to empower parents and caregivers with helpful resources to make life easier. You can access the many free, online resources available at https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats. Other resources on this site include the following:

  • Car Seat Types: Determine whether your child fits best in a rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, booster seat, or seat belt.
  • Car Seat Recommendations: Review NHTSA’s recommendations for the best car seat for your child’s age and size.
  • Find and Compare: Find and compare car seats with NHTSA’s handy car seat finder, which also searches specific brands.

For more information on child car seat safety, as well as how to find other virtual car seat check events, go to www.nhtsa.gov/therightseat.

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