2010-09-09 / Local & State

National Child Passenger Safety Week September 19-25

During Child Passenger Safety Week, September 19 to 25, Fulton County Center for Families joins the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to remind families to review their child’s safety in the family vehicle.

The theme for Child Passenger Safety Week 2010, “Back to Basics – Safe from the Start” reminds parents and caregivers that as children go back to school, it is a good time to evaluate the safety of all children travelling in vehicles. Going back to the basics of buckling up everyone, every time will ensure the safety of Pennsylvania families. Buckling up is a habit that should start from birth and follow through to adulthood.

On an average day in Pennsylvania, there are about 350 crashes on state highways. It is a fact, that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 21, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Correctly buckling up in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt is the single most effective way to protect motor vehicle occupants and to reduce fatalities in a crash.

It’s time to get Back to Basics and make sure everyone is buckled up from the start of every trip. To help families understand what needs to be done to protect children, here are some key safety points that will help them get Back to Basics:

Restrain all adults and children on every trip, every time. Parents who buckle up set the example and teach children to buckle up. More than 121,000 crashes occurred in Pennsylvania in 2009. According to PennDOT, 1,256 people were killed and 451 of the victims were not wearing seat belts at the time of their crashes.

Keep your child in a back seat. Children are 38 percent less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a back seat (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Partners for Child Passenger Safety).

Use child safety seats and seat belts correctly. There is still a high misuse rate of child safety seats and booster seats. Last year at Penn- DOT-funded car seat inspection stations, more than 8 out of every 10 child safety seats checked were being used improperly. Child Passenger Safety Week offers an excellent opportunity to have child safety seats and booster seats inspected to make sure they are being used correctly to maximize safety.

Use the best safety restraint for your child’s size. Take into account a child’s age, weight, height, physical development and behavior needs when selecting a seat.

NHTSA’s 4 steps listed below are a good way to help decide which type of child safety seat is best for your child.

1. Infants ride rear-facing in infant car seats/rear-facing convertible car seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds AND are at least 1 year of age. For optimal protection, use a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the maximum weight and/or height allowed by the manufacturer.

2. Forward-facing toddler car seats from a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds to around age 4 and at least 40 pounds.

3. Booster seats from about 4 years old and at least 40 pounds to age 8, unless 4 feet, 9 inches.

4. Lap and shoulder safety belts at age 8 or older and 4feet, 9 inches tall when the vehicle seat belt fits correctly. Children under 13 should ride in a back seat of the vehicle.

Under Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law, all drivers are responsible for securing children in the appropriate child restraint system. All children from birth up to age 4 must be secured in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle. All children age 4 up to age 8 must be secured in a seat belt system and appropriate child booster seat anywhere in the vehicle.

All children age 8 up to age 18 must be secured in a seat belt system anywhere in the vehicle. Under Pennsylvania’s seat belt law, all drivers are responsible for the front seat occupants to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system. All drivers under 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle in which the number of passengers exceeds the number of available safety seat belts in the vehicle.

If you are unable to afford a car seat, call 1-800-CARBELT or visit www.pakidstravelsafe. org to find the nearest car seat loan program, child safety seat inspection station or car seat event.

For more information, call 1-800-CAR-BELT or Fulton County Center for Families at 717-485-5038.

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