WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- With more than 200 million drivers on U.S. roadways, and nearly 6.5 million car crashes overall in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), chances are high that most American drivers will experience multiple crashes during their lifetimes. While the majority are non-fatal, even minor fender benders can have a significant impact on children, particularly those who are unrestrained. In a push to increase car seat and seat belt use, and in recognition of Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Worldwide urges parents and caregivers to model safe driving habits, including buckling up – every person, every ride, every time.
Children see whether parents and caregivers are buckling up, texting while driving or speeding; they learn by example. By about two years of age, as children move from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats, they begin observing and learning how to behave in and around cars. If using a seat belt is not a priority for the parent, it's likely not going to be priority for the child. To the point, in 2017, when drivers involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained, 7 of 10 children in those crashes were also unrestrained (NHTSA). Thirty-seven percent (37%) of children who died in crashes were not using any restraint, not even the car's free seat belt.
"Parents should think of themselves as their child's first driving instructor, role modeling safe driver behaviors well before the teen years," said Safe Kids president Torine Creppy. "As parents, the choices we make – to use a seat belt, to avoid distracted and impaired driving – have lasting consequences, beyond any single car ride. These are habits, potentially life-saving habits, that will be passed on to our children and will impact their lives for years to come."
While child passenger safety has evolved and state laws requiring child safety restraints have resulted in more children being buckled up, road injuries remain the leading cause of unintentional death to children in the United States. Also, across all populations, car seat and seat belt use compliance drops after age one. This is a troubling trend, as it puts children and their families at risk. Safe Kids Worldwide is asking families to help us save lives using these tips.
Quick Tips for Families:
Wear your seat belt: Be sure everyone else in the car buckles up, too. When adults wear seat belts, kids use car seats, booster seats and seat belts. Set a good example and buckle up every ride, every time.
Place kids under 13 in a back seat: It's the best and safest place for them to ride.
Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute: A car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn't help.
Make sure your child is riding safely. Visit a car seat checkup event to see if you are using your car seat correctly. Common errors include a loose harness, not using the seat belt or LATCH system to properly secure a car seat, failing to correctly use the tether and being unaware of the risks of using a second-hand car seat or booster. A certified child passenger safety technician can help you protect your child. With support of Chevrolet, Safe Kids coalitions have checked more than 2.3 million car seats since 1998.
For those who can't attend an event, Safe Kids recommends the Ultimate Car Seat Guide to help families learn how to choose and use a car seat. The Ultimate Car Seat Guide, a website available in English and Spanish, makes car seat buying, installing, fitting and changing from one seat to another easier for parents and caregivers. The Guide, developed with support from Chevrolet, also offers best practices and expert advice covering all stages of a child's development, from the first car seat until the child is ready for the seat belt alone.
ABOUT CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY WEEK - SEPTEMBER 15-21 Child Passenger Safety Week is September 15-21 and culminates with National Seat Check Saturday on September 21. Throughout the month of September, Safe Kids will host more than 500 car seat events and inspection stations across the country, offering guidance from certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on proper car seat and booster seat installation and usage, with a focus on the use of tethers. Parents and caregivers can visit SafeKids.org to locate an event in their community in September and throughout the year. Our coalition inspection stations are staffed by certified car seat technicians who use a standardized checkup form to assure quality inspections. Ask to see their current technician ID.
ABOUT SAFE KIDS WORLDWIDE Safe Kids Worldwide is a global nonprofit dedicated to protecting kids from preventable injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Around the world, a child dies every 30 seconds from an injury that could have been prevented. Safe Kids is a go-to resource to help parents keep kids safe from car crashes, fires, falls, poisoning and more. Through more than 400 coalitions in the U.S. and partners in more than 30 countries, we can help all kids grow up healthy and safe. Join our effort at safekids.org.