As the premier provider of ignition interlock devices in Alabama, we have a lot of resources invested in making the roads here a lot safer - for your families and for ours. But the safety of drivers and passengers isn't only a factor of whether the driver has consumed any alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel. Other things like avoiding distractions, staying focused, and using proper restraints and seats are among some of the other important factors.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, which is September 17-23, NHTSA wants parents and caregivers to make sure their kids are in the right seats and that they are installed correctly. Your children are worth the time it takes to make sure your car seats and booster seats are just right. We routinely check things like our tire pressure, our engine oil, and our brake lights; why not check the equipment that keeps your most vulnerable passengers safe? Child Passenger Safety Week is the time to double-check that your children are as safe as possible when they’re riding in your vehicle. It’s as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Are your children in the right types of seats for their ages and sizes?
2. Do the car seats fit your children properly?
3. Are the seats correctly installed in your vehicle?
Why is it so important to check your car seats to make sure they’re the right seats? Your children’s lives are riding on it. Below you’ll find some startling statistics about child crash fatalities and injuries. Most of the information contained in this article is provided by NHTSA.
Car seats save lives
- It’s a fact: In passenger cars, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58% and 59%, respectively.
- NHTSA estimates that from 1975 to 2017, child restraints have saved the lives of 11,606 children under the age of 5.
- Child Passenger Safety Technicians have found that while most parents and caregivers believe they know how to properly install their car seats, about half (46%) have installed their child’s car seat incorrectly. Don’t be overconfident: Getting your car seat installation checked is quick, free, and an important way to have peace of mind about your child’s safety.
- Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children.
- Every day in 2021, on average, two children under 13 were killed in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.
- A total of 710 children (under 13) were killed in passenger vehicles in 2021, and more than 100,000 were injured.
- In 2021, more than a third (36%) of children (under 13) who died while riding in passenger vehicles were unrestrained.
- From 2017 to 2021, there were 3,255 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles. Child crash fatalities decreased every year from 2017 to 2020, but saw an increase in 2021.
- Of the children under 13 involved in crashes in 2021, an estimated 14% were injured, which may be an indication of improper car seat or seat belt use.
- Children from some minority groups are at greater risk of being unrestrained when killed in traffic crashes: According to 2020 data from NHTSA, 50% of Black children (13 and under) killed in car crashes were unrestrained, followed by Hispanic children (45%). By comparison, white children killed were unrestrained 23% of the time.
- In 2021, 37% of the children killed while riding in light pickup trucks were unrestrained, followed closely by SUVs (36%), passenger cars (36%), and vans (34%). Children are safest when secured in the proper car seats or booster seats for their ages and sizes, regardless of the vehicle type.
- Over the 5-year period from 2017-2021, there were 1,753 “tweens” (8 to 14 years old) killed in passenger vehicles.
- In 2021 alone, the 4- to 7-year-old age group had the highest number of fatalities (246) among children in passenger vehicles, followed by the 8-to-12 age group (241).
Booster seats are not optional
- A common misuse of seat belts, especially for kids, is placing the shoulder strap behind them. In the event of a crash, your child could be seriously injured if the shoulder strap isn’t securely across the chest. When you’re driving with kids, check periodically to make sure they’re still buckled correctly.
- Everyone knows that infant car seats are essential for babies, and NHTSA wants you to know that car seats and booster seats are equally essential steps.
- Seat belts are designed to fit adult occupants. Booster seats are a necessary step between car seats and seat belts. Booster seats position the adult seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body to protect them in a crash.
- According to NHTSA data, in 2019, about 16.1% of children 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to seat belts, when they should have been riding in booster seats.
- In every phase, check the size limits on your child’s seat — rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster. Keep your child in the right seat as long as their age and size allow. Don’t ask “How soon can I move my child to the next seat?” Think of it as “How long can I keep my child in this seat?”
- Fit matters in a crash. When your child is ready to use a seat belt, check to make sure the seat belt lies across your child’s upper thighs and is snug across the shoulder and chest. Seat belts should never rest on the stomach area or across the neck or face.
- Parents, you might get resistance from your kids about being in a harness or using a booster seat. Share the facts with them and explain the age and size limits for their seat type. If a booster seat is the right seat for their age and size, then that is the safest way for your child to be buckled. It isn’t “babyish” to be protected in a crash — it’s safe and smart. Don’t rush to put your child in a seat belt too soon.
What does Alabama law say?
A few things mentioned in Alabama law are:
- Under 1 yrs or under 20 lbs in rear-facing seat
- 1-4 yrs or 20-40 lbs in forward-facing child safety seat
- 5 yrs (but not yet 6) in booster seat
Keep your children safe in your vehicle
Driving impaired with children in the vehicle isn't the only way to put their lives in danger. Make sure children and other passengers are properly restrained and avoid distractions while operating a vehicle. Follow our blog for other topics related to keeping the roads safe.
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