Products Liability Law Daily Proper use and installation of car seats is critical to child passenger safety
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Proper use and installation of car seats is critical to child passenger safety

By WK Editorial Staff

The agency highlights the importance of car seat safety during Child Passenger Safety Week.

In recognition of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 20 to 26, 2020), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release urging all parents and care givers to make sure child car seats are chosen correctly and installed properly. To help parents and care givers find the right car seat for their child, the agency offers a tool that, based on a child’s age, height, and weight, will identify the car seat type or vehicle restraint (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, or seat belt) that is appropriate for their child (NHTSA Press Release, September 21, 2020).

In addition to finding the right car seat, proper installation is critical. While most parents and care givers are confident that they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, almost half (46 percent) have been installed incorrectly, the agency noted. When properly installed, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a car accident by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers, according to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

During Child Passenger Safety Week, many communities will have certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to provide free assistance on how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. During the current public health emergency, more technicians are offering virtual seat checks this year. A list of sites that will conduct virtual seat checks can be found here.

For the past 30 years, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have had laws requiring children to be secured in the appropriate car seats or booster seats for their ages and sizes while riding in vehicles. States now require children to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until as old as age nine. However, some children between the ages of 8 and 12 may still need to use a booster seat if they are not tall enough to properly use a vehicle’s seat belt system. If a regular seat belt is being used for a child, the shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest, not crossing the face or neck, and the lap belt should fit snugly across the upper thigh, not the stomach. In addition to making sure a child is buckled up properly every time they are in a motor vehicle, NHTSA recommends that all children through at least the age of 12 be kept in the back seat.

Another safety hazard for children in vehicles is heatstroke. The number of children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they are inadvertently left in the vehicle or have become trapped, has increased in recent years. Most hot car deaths—54 percent—happen when someone forgets a child in a car. So far, in 2020, 20 children have died from pediatric vehicular heatstroke. In 2019, 52 children died, the second most deadly year for pediatric vehicular heatstroke on record, because children were forgotten in or gained access to an unlocked vehicle. Parents and care givers should always check the back seat of their vehicle when exiting and always lock the doors when a vehicle is not in use.

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANews MotorEquipmentNews ChildrensProductsNews

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