THERE ARE 73 MILLION CHILDREN IN THE U.S.; 25% OF THE POPULATION. CAR CRASHES ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR KIDS AGED 2-14. HALF OF ALL CHILDREN KILLED WERE UNRESTRAINED.
The momentum of a sudden stop or crash gives a 20-pound baby a 400-pound force. Because of their delicate bone structure, children need restraints designed especially for them. Child safety seats have significantly reduced infant and toddler deaths. All states require that young children ride only in approved safety seats.
There are three basic types of child safety seats:
1. Rear facing infant seats 0-20 lbs.
2. Safety seats for toddlers 20-40 lbs.
3. Booster seats for children who are not old enough for lap belts, but need additional height. 40-80 lbs.
There are thousands of child safety seats on the market, yet using an approved safety seat is not enough. Most children are restrained inappropriately for their age.
Visit a child passenger safety fitting station, where licensed professionals can check your child’s safety seat and make sure it fits properly. Call your dealership, Department of Highway or Public Safety, Police or local Traffic Safety Agencies for details. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website lists child passenger safety contacts in each state. Call National SAFE KIDS Campaign to find a car seat check-up event near you: 800-441-1888
As of September, 2002, all new vehicles and most child safety seats are equipped with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) attachments. A new top tether strap fastens the child seat more securely, and two lower anchors - independent of the vehicle seat belt - attach from behind the seat bight to hooks on the lower frame of the child safety seat. The additional stability points reduce both a seat's tendency to travel forward, and the arc of its forward motion, upon a short stop. Many manufacturers will retrofit existing cars free of charge.
Kid Safety Sense
- Children under 5, weighing less than 40 pounds or shorter than 44 inches in height, should ride in a child safety seat.
- Children weighing 40-80 lbs and 40 to 55 inches in height should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat.
- Properly fitting lap and shoulder belts reduce the potential for belt-induced injury which occur where lap or lap/shoulder belt is a small child’s only restraint.
- The child safety seat should be attached to the inside body of the car by a rear seatbelt, and anchored with a tether.
- The safest place in the car for a child is in the back seat.
- Do not place children in rear facing child seats in the front seat of cars equipped with passenger-side air bags. The impact of a deploying air bag striking a rear-facing child seat could result in injury to the child. Children 12 and under should sit in the rear seat away from the force of a deploying air bag.
- Adults should not hold children on their laps. In a collision, they could crush their children, or the child could be torn from their arms and thrown about the car.
- Children should not ride in the luggage section of a station wagon or in the hatchback.
- Keep hatchbacks closed when children ride in the back seat, to prevent ejection or possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
Photos courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration