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It’s time to double check your car seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is saying that many young children are still being placed in the wrong restraint or booster seat systems.
Last week was Child Passenger Safety week, so now is the right time to ensure that you have the right car seat for your child. It’s also important that these safety seats have been inspected to make sure they’re working properly.
NHTSA 2009 stats show that child fatalities from motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14. Last year, an average of four children age 14 and younger were killed and 490 were injured every day.
“Make no mistake about it: child safety seats save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Children who graduate too soon from their safety seats are at risk of serious injury. Parents and caregivers should ensure that safety seats are installed correctly and should always use them. Their children depend on it.”
Children usually outgrow their forward-facing seats around age 4 and at about 40 pounds. At this time, they should graduate to booster seats until the seat belts in the vehicle fit properly. You know that a seat belt fits properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (they usually fit kids once they turn 8 or when they are 4’9″ tall).
The NHTSA released a survey on booster seat, which found that just 41 percent of 4- to 7-year-old children ride in booster seats, virtually unchanged from the prior year. In 2009, restraint use for children age 1 to 3 years increased from 92 percent in 200, while restraint use for all children under age 13 remained stayed the same at 89 percent.