Eighty percent of children age six to eight who were killed in auto crashes in 2009 were either improperly restrained or not belted at all, according to an analysis of Fatality Analysis Reporting System crash data conducted by AAA.
“Automobile crashes remain a leading cause of death for children and it's important that parents consistently and correctly use the appropriate car seat to keep their child passengers safe,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “One lapse in judgment can lead to a lifetime of regret and heartache.”
During National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 18-24, AAA reminds parents to properly restrain their children on every trip and avoid common errors made out of convenience or carelessness.
“I'm only driving a mile from home, so my son doesn't need to be secured in his car seat.”
Tip: You should buckle up properly on every trip – no matter the distance – since most crashes occur close to home.
“I'm picking up several kids after soccer practice and I'm going to put my 8-year-old daughter in the front seat so all of the children can fit into the car.”
Tip: All children under age 13 are safest when riding in the back seat and restrained in the appropriate child restraint system.
“We will be driving more people in our car than we have seatbelts. Since it's a short trip, it's not a big deal for someone to ride on another person's lap.”
Tip: It's never safe to ride on a person's lap. Each passenger should be properly restrained on every trip.
“My son is 10 years old and 4' 6” tall. It's safe for him to stop using his booster seat and only use a seat belt now.”
Tip: The American Academy of Pediatrics and AAA now recommend children continue to use belt-positioning booster seats until they are 4' 9” and the seat belt fits properly.
With three out of four child safety seats not properly installed, consulting an expert can be critical to ensure that children are secured in the safest manner possible. Many AAA Oklahoma offices have certified child car seat technicians on staff who will be happy to inspect car seats to make sure they're installed properly. Appointments are required and the service is free to the general public.
- Tulsa – 2121 E. 15th Street, (918) 748-1074
- Tulsa – 8013 S. Sheridan Road, (918) 496-9600
- Tulsa – 10051 S. Yale Ave., (918) 296-9600
- Broken Arrow – 3746 S. Elm Place (918) 455-4764
- Muskogee – 1021 W. Okmulgee Street (918) 683-0341
- Norman – 1017 24th Ave. NW, (405) 360-7771
- Oklahoma City – 3557 W. Memorial Rd., (405) 753-9777
Here are the four stages of child passenger safety and the recommended car seats to use:
Stage 1: Rear-facing car seat. Children should ride in the back seat from birth until age two, or until they reach the upper weight limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, which should be around 35 pounds. (This is a change over previous recommendations to keep children rear-facing until age one and 20 pounds.)
Stage 2: Forward-facing car seat. Children can ride forward-facing in the back seat once they have reached the upper weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat (30-35 pounds), which will typically be around age two. It is safest to keep your child in a forward-facing seat with a harness until they reach the maximum weight limit (40-65 pounds) or height restriction of their seat.
Stage 3: Belt-positioning booster seat. Once a child outgrows the upper weight or height limit of their forward-facing harness, they are not yet ready to ride in a seat belt that is designed for adults. Children should use belt-positioning booster seats once they outgrow their 5-point harness until they are at least 4' 9" and are between eight and twelve years of age.
Stage 4: Lap/shoulder belt. Children can ride in safety belts once the belt fits properly. All children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.
Oklahoma law states that children under the age of six must be properly restrained in a child car seat and that children ages six to 13 must be restrained in either a child passenger restraint system or a seat belt, regardless of seating position. The law does not specifically mention booster seats, but AAA's recommendation is for parents to use booster seats, as stated above under Stage 3, for children who are less than 4' 9” tall and between the ages of eight and twelve.
For more information, visit www.AAA.com/carseats or call AAA at (918) 748-1074.