Child Passenger Safety Week and National Seat Check Saturday

As a parent, the safety and well being of our children is at the top of our priority list, and keeping them safe while riding in a vehicle is a daily responsibility. The leading cause of preventable death for children from birth to 19 years are car crashes but many injuries and fatalities may be avoided by the proper use of car seats, booster seats and seat belts. Child Passenger Safety Week runs September 13 – 19, 2015, and National Seat Check Saturday is Saturday, September 19, 2015. Both events focus on the importance of properly securing infants and children in car and booster seats.

Most car crashes occur close to home, usually within a 10-mile radius, so no matter how close to home you may travel with your child, always make sure they are properly restrained in a car or booster seat, or using a seat belt, depending on their age, weight and height. Experts estimate the risk of death can be reduced up to 71% with the correct use of properly installed car seats and child safety restraints.

SafeKids.org reports that 7 out of 10 car and booster seats are installed incorrectly. Follow these tips to help ensure the safest ride for your child:

  • Infants and babies should always ride in the back seat, in a rear-facing car seat, NEVER in the front seat in front of an air bag. Babies should be kept in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, up to 2 years of age. Check the information booklet that comes with your car seat to find out the exact age, weight and height dimensions recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Once a child reaches 2 years of age, it is appropriate to move them to a forward-facing car seat but they must still remain in the back seat away from air bags. Again, check the manufacturer recommendations for age, height and weight limitations.
  • When using a booster seat, make sure the seat belt fits low on the hips or high on the thighs. The shoulder belt should fit across the shoulder and be snug, not tight, on the collarbone.
  • Always wear your seat belt to set a good example for your child.
  • If your child is riding with another person, make sure that individual has the proper restraint system, and knows how to properly secure your child in their vehicle.
  • All children age 12 and under should always ride in the back seat away from the front seat air bag.
  • Cold weather presents an interesting dilemma for car and booster seats because bulky coats can alter the snugness of your restraint system. Be aware of this and change the snugness accordingly.
  • Always register car and booster seats with the manufacturer so you will receive notification if it is recalled for any reason. There is an information sticker on every car and booster seat including the manufacturer name, style name, and identification or serial number. You can either register online or mailing in the registration card to the manufacturer. Take a picture of the car seat information sticker with your smart phone or camera so you will have the information when you need it.
  • If you plan to use a used car seat, make sure you know its crash and recall history. Do not buy a car seat from a thrift store or second-hand store, or off of the Internet, because you will not be able to find out its crash history. If the car seat has been involved in a crash, or has been recalled, do not use it.
  • Car seats and booster seats have an expiration date, usually six years after the date of manufacture. Before using one of these seats, check the information label on the side to be sure the seat is not “expired”, and if it is, do not use it.
  • Check to see if your car seat has been recalled at carseat.org and click on the “Recalls” link. You can also subscribe to the NHTSA recall notification system here: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/recallprocess.cfm

Kentucky Child Passenger Safety Laws

Kentucky child passenger safety laws require that any child less than 40 inches tall must be restrained in a child or infant safety seat. Kentucky changed its booster seat law effective June 24, 2015. Children younger than 8 years old and who stand between 40 and 57 inches must ride in a booster seat. Fines for failure to have a child properly restrained in a booster seat are $30.00 with no court costs, although you may elect to purchase a booster seat in lieu of paying the fine. Any child over 8 years old or over 57 inches tall must be secured by a seat belt.

Indiana’s Child Restraint Law

Babies and children under the age of one year, and weighing less than 20 pounds, must be restrained in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. Once the child is at least one year of age, and weighs 20 pounds or more, they may be placed in a forward-facing car seat but still must ride in the rear seat of the vehicle. A child weighing 30 pounds or more may ride in a booster seat, although it is recommended that parents wait until their child weighs at least 40 pounds before transitioning to the booster seat. All children under the age of 8 years MUST use some kind of child restraint system that meets federal safety standards, and children between the age of eight and sixteen years must be restrained in the vehicle, either by car seat, booster seat or seat belt.

Ohio Child Safety Restraint Law

Ohio law is similar to both Kentucky and Indiana. Infants and children up to age one year and 20 pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing federally-approved child safety seat. Children at least one year old, weighing between 20 and 40 pounds, must be in a forward-facing child safety seat. Children between 4 and 7 years of age and less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall, must be restrained in a booster seat, and children between the ages of 8 and 15 years old must be in an approved restraint system or wearing a seat belt while traveling in a vehicle. Violations of the mandatory child restraint laws carry a fine of at least $25 and not more than $75.

Proper installation of child restraint systems is crucial

Generally speaking, once the car seat or booster seat is installed, it should not move more than one inch from side to side, and front to back. Use the tethers provided with the seat to secure the seat inside your vehicle. The harness should fit snugly across your child’s lap and shoulders. If it is too loose, the child is not properly restrained, and if too tight, may cause other injuries to the child if you are involved in a crash.

If you are unsure if your child’s car or booster seat is installed properly, many GM dealerships, hospitals, police and fire stations have people who are certified and can help install your safety seat properly. There are also several car seat installation inspection events happening this weekend and in the next several weeks in honor of Child Passenger Safety Week.

In Louisville, Safety 1st, a car seat manufacturer, will hold a free car and booster seat installation check at the Jeffersontown Valvoline Instant Oil Change at 9903 Taylorsville Road this Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Also in Louisville, SafeKids will have certified technicians conducting car seat installation inspections and offering guidance on how to properly install car and booster seats on Friday, September 25, 2015 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Buechel Fire Department at 4101 Bardstown Road.

In Lexington, SafeKids Fayette County will inspect and properly install car and booster seats at Baptist Health Lexington, 161 Lexington Green Circle, on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.

In Nicholasville, SafeKids Fayette County will conduct car and booster seat inspections at the Nicholasville Fire Department, Station 2, located at 1022 S. Main Street, Nicholasville, Kentucky, on Friday, October 9, 2015, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Car and Booster Seat Ratings and Reviews

Consumer Reports ratings and reviews of the best car seats and booster seats can be found at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/car-seats.htm.

Convertible Car Seats Buying Guide can be found here: https://www.thebabbleout.com/baby/best-budget-friendly-convertible-car-seat/

Regardless of how old you are, it is important to always use some kind of safety restraint while travelling in a vehicle. And if you or a loved one is injured in a crash, contact an experienced car crash attorney to help protect your interests and secure the benefits to which you are entitled.