Decades of research prove child restraints save lives

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By Daniel Crum

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Child safety seats and booster seats are the best defense young passengers have against death or injury in the event of a crash. More than 30 years of research and real world experience has shown unequivocally that child restraints save lives and reduce injuries.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows that more than 7,600 children under the age of 5 have been saved by the use of child safety seats over the past 30 years. In fact, in 2008 alone, an additional 79 children under the age of 5 would have been saved if they had been restrained by child safety seats. On average, over the last five years, 355 children under the age of 5 were saved annually by the use of child safety seats. Their guidelines for safety and booster seats are as follows:

Infants – For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

Toddlers – 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 (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Children – Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).

Tweens – Usually at age 8 or older children outgrow their booster seats. They can then use the adult seat belt in the back seat, but only if it fits properly.

With many families traveling for Memorial Day weekend, the LaRue County Health Department encourages you to keep your children safe by following these guidelines. For more information on traffic safety you can go onto the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website www.nhtsa.gov.