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 15-21, 2019. 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% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. Unfortunately, many parents install their child seats incorrectly. Among children under 5, an estimated 325 lives were saved in 2017 alone because they were properly buckled, but an additional 46 children could have been saved if every child was properly buckled.
Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children. From 2013 to 2017, there were 3,313 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles — 2017 was the first yearly decrease since 2014. But, about 37% of those children killed in 2017 were not buckled at all — these deaths are preventable.
Get Help Checking Your Car Seat
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 correctly installed and that you're using it correctly. 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 21.
Register Your Car Seat
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.
The Right Seat
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 right car seat, booster seat, or seat belt for your growing child.
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.