National Car Seat Check Day
Saturday, September 22 – Car Seat Safety Tips!
Saturday, September 22nd, has been designated as National Seat Check Saturday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Certified technicians and organizations around the country will conduct car seat safety inspections to ensure every child rides as safe as possible. Seat Check Saturday wraps up the end of National Child Passenger Safety Week, which is recognized annually during the second week of September.
Child Passenger Safety Month has been an annual campaign designed to ensure all parents and guardians are properly securing their children (ages 0-12) in the proper car restraints based on their age and size. Understanding the differences, terminology, installation, and reasoning behind rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, and seat belt restraints can be confusing, but most commonly includes a wide variety of mistakes made during their installation. Passenger Safety Month is an excellent way to educate ourselves and double-check in order to avoid any incidents.
KNOW YOUR LAWS!
Child car seat laws vary from state to state, so be sure to know what your state child passenger safety laws say about your children based on age and/or weight requirements. New York State child passenger safety laws state that our children under 3 require a child restraint, unless greater than 40 pounds and no lap/shoulder belt available. Additionally, children 4-7 years old must be seated in a booster seat.
Thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seat inspection stations are easy to locate in your area! Use their car seat inspection station locator and search by state or zip code to determine the best location for you to have your vehicle and car seats checked.
Are you using the right car seat for your children? Find out if your child is in the proper car seat, or if it is time to move on up to the next restraint system ⇒
Facts, Statistics, and Background
* Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 1 through 12 years old.
* Based on NHTSA crash data in 2010, almost an average of 2 children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed and 325 were injured each day.
* This fatality rate could be reduced by about half if the correct child safety seat were always used.
* General market research has found that the target audience is overconfident and thinks its kids are safe in the car.
* Parents constantly worry about their children’s safety, but car crashes aren’t even on their radar as a real danger.
Did You Know…
• In 2010, 655 children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 64% of whom were restrained.
• Also in 2010, an estimated 119,000 children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
• In 2009, 161 Hispanic children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
• 3 out of 4 kids are not as secure in the car as they should be because their car seats are not being used correctly.
• Using the correct restraints reduces infants’ and toddlers’ chances for fatal injury by 71% and 54% in passenger cars respectively
L.A.T.C.H: Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children
Your vehicle may or may not include a LATCH system depending on the year of your model. All vehicles are required to include lower anchors and at least TWO positions and tether anchors in at least THREE positions in models 2003 and later.
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren. It is also known as ISOFIX (Europe) and LUAS (Lower Universal Anchorage System) in Canada. This anchoring system is a simple and safe way to secure a child safety seat to your vehicle using straps from the car seat that will connect to special metal anchors in the vehicle.
Why is the LATCH system used rather than your old school seatbelt method? Basically, LATCH has been implemented as an alternative to the vehicle’s safety belt in order to secure the child seat TO the vehicle itself. These two options are not used at the same time, but rather as an alternative replacement. You do not want to use the lower anchors AND the seat belt to secure the car seat.
Several common LATCH mistakes made during the installation of a car seat include an installation that is too loose, or the tether not used on a forward-facing car seat. Lower anchor straps are also not routed through the proper path, which would mean the strap is installed through the rear-facing belt path when the seat is actually forward-facing. Avoid these simple mistakes and ensure your little one’s car seat is properly installed before your next car trip!
VEHICLE LATCH ANCHORS
LOWER ANCHORS: Pair of metal “u-shaped” bars that are essentially hidden in the vehicle’s seat cushion.
TETHER ANCHOR: Metal ring found behind (or under) the vehicle seat.
CHILD SAFETY SEAT LATCH STRAPS
LOWER ANCHOR STRAP: All car seats that use a vehicle’s lower anchors have a lower anchor strap, which includes a hook on either end. Some child safety car seats have two separate lower anchor straps with a hook on one end. The hooks connect to the vehicle’s lower anchors.
TETHER STRAP: All forward-facing child safety seats that use LATCH come with not only a lower anchor strap, but also a tether strap, which comes from the top of the car seat and features a hook on the end. Hook will connect to the tether anchor in the vehicle.
Know Your Recalls!
I remember checking for recalls nearly every month when my son was an infant. Those were the days! Now that my son is 3-years-old, I am expecting another baby in January, and we have an entire HOUSE of gear and toys — I have NO idea where to begin with checking for recalls! That’s why I was ecstatic to find out there is a way to register our carseat and receive ALERTS in the event of a recall!
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages parents to use the registration card found inside of the car seat box/manual, but they will also give you a hand. Complete their simple form to register and receive car seat recall and defects information.
Hey, Kids… Take the Pledge!
Head on over to the Chuggington Station Traffic Safety Program and let your kids learn about car passenger restraint safety! There is plenty of resources and knowledge to go around, but we especially loved asking our son to take the Chuggington Safety Pledge, which asks him to promise to wear his seat belt in the car, helmet while riding a bicycle, and cross the street with an adult – only!
Pregnant Seatbelt Position Safety
Obviously, I realize this doesn’t quite fit in with the other content and topic of this blog post. However, I actually thought of tossing it in since I am pregnant and dealt with this issue today. Now that I am over 5-months pregnant, I am beginning to have a lot of discomfort while driving. The seatbelt irritates my neck, belly, arms, everything! However much I am bothered by the belt itself, I will never remove it while driving since I know how vital it is to secure myself safely — and now that I am with child, I am protecting both of us and need to secure my body.
But, where and how will this work out with a growing belly? Placing the seat below BELOW your belly is the safest position for your baby. Consider where your baby is located inside of your belly and it will obviously make a lot of sense. Suspending your body in the event of a car accident is first and foremost your most important step.
Next, I would want to think about what will happen once that seatbelt tightens. Leaving the seatbelt in the center of your belly means that a lot of pressure is being places on the baby – accident or not. Your baby will be safe from any belt tightness or injury once you have placed it underneath the belly — and you’ll be perfectly secure yourself!
Head on over to the USDOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for an in-depth and closer look at how you can begin the process of checking your child safety restraints in your vehicles. You will find many different facts, statistics, and even printable worksheets to help engage and educate your children about National Child Passenger Safety Week.
Credits & Acknowledgements:
Special thank you for the USDOT/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for assets, PSA’s, campaign details, and other resources used within this post in order to educate and spread awareness.