Every day across America, parents and caregivers drive young children to and from school, daycare, the store, and around town in car seats and boosters. Yet nearly half of all car seats are installed incorrectly, which means your child may not be traveling as safely as possible.
To help keep children safe on our roads, NHTSA is sponsoring Child Passenger Safety Week from September 23-29. The goal is to make sure your child is in the correct car seat, that it’s properly installed and used, and that it’s registered with its manufacturer to ensure you receive important safety updates.
Car seats and boosters are one of the easiest ways to keep your child safe and, when installed correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Unfortunately, many parents install their child seats incorrectly. Among children under 5, car seats saved an estimated 328 lives in 2016 alone. An additional 370 more children could have survived if they had been properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat.
Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children. From 2012 to 2016, there were 3,268 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles, and these tragic figures have been increasing steadily since 2014. More than one-third of those children were not buckled at all. These deaths are 100-percent preventable. If you have a car seat in your vehicle, visit a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your community to double-check that it’s properly installed. You can use this simple search tool to find a car seat inspection station near you right now or visit a car seat check in your community on National Seat Check Saturday on September 29.
It’s also critical that all car seats are registered with their manufacturers in case of a safety recall. Every seat purchased comes with a postage-paid registration card that you can drop in the mail. You can also register your seat online. This simple, but critical, step will help ensure that you will be notified if a defect is discovered with your car seat so it can be repaired or the seat can be replaced to keep your child safe.
As children grow and transition from one type of car seat to another, parents sometimes become less vigilant about ensuring that their children are properly buckled in the right seats. NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height or weight limit allowed by the particular seat. 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 a tether.
When your child exceeds the weight or height limits for their forward-facing car seat, it may be time for a booster seat. This should be the next step before a child is ready to wear an adult seat belt alone. Check to make sure you’re using the proper car seat, booster seat, or seat belt for your growing child. No matter what, everyone in your vehicle needs to be buckled up correctly to keep them safe in a crash — every trip, every time. The car should never move until everyone is buckled.
Every time your family gets on the road, make sure everyone in the car is properly buckled, including the tiniest passengers. Help us spread the message during Child Passenger Safety Week that correct car seat and booster seat use are the key to keeping children as safe as possible. Let’s work together to keep America’s kids safe.