Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 12-18

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 12-18

Posted: 09/14/2009
Did you know that Tennessee was the first state to pass a child passenger safety law more than 30 years ago? Now, all fifty states have similar legislation which is celebrated during National Child Passenger Safety Week. Knox County Health Department and local law enforcement agencies will be marking the occasion in a brief presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2 p.m. (please arrive early) in the Community Room of KCHD's Dameron Avenue facility. Fittingly, the event will take place as a special addition to a child car seat class, which the health department offers regularly to qualifying parents and parents-to-be. Free car seats are distributed by the health department through funds provided by fines collected for car seat violations.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 8,000 lives have been saved by the proper use of child restraints during the last 30 years. Child safety seats reduce the likelihood of an infant under one year old being killed in a vehicle crash by 71 percent and the risk of a toddler, aged one to four years, being killed by 54 percent. Children ages 4 through 7 who use booster seats are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than children who are restrained only by seat belts, according to a study by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The good news is that NHTSA's research shows child safety seat use is at an all-time high for children under the age of one. Last year, 99 percent of children ages 0-12 months old were secured as were 92 percent of children ages 1-3 years old and 89 percent of 4-7 years-olds. Unfortunately, research also indicated that three out of every four seats are used incorrectly. This figure includes errors in securing the child in the child seat and errors in attaching the child seat to the car. Some specific examples include using the wrong child restraint based on age and weight; incorrect installation of restraint to the vehicle seat; harness straps buckled too loosely; incorrect attachment of the vehicle safety belt to the child restraint and loose fit of seat belts across children in belt-positioning booster seats.

National Child Passenger Safety Week is celebrated every September to help raise public awareness about the importance of installing and using child restraint systems meeting federal standards.

Following are four guidelines to help parents determine which restraint system is appropriate for their child's age and size:

For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats for as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age one AND at least 20 pounds.

When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats in the back seat until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat. This is usually around age four AND 40 pounds.

Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should ride in booster seats in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. A proper fit is when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest. Seat belts usually fit by age eight or when the child is four feet, nine inches tall.

When children outgrow their booster seats, they can use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (see above). You are invited to cover this important event and remind your audience of the importance of using properly fitted car seats every time children are in the vehicle.