Ensure Your Child is Buckled Up and in the Right Seat PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lynn Lauridsen   


Of all the things you are sure of, making sure your children are properly buckled in the car should be at the top of your list. The answer could mean the difference between life, serious injury, or death for your children. Don’t think you know – know you know that your children are safe and are in the right seats.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children 12 and younger. From 2011 to 2015, there were 3,194 children killed, and an estimated 599,000 injured while riding in cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs. In 2015, fatalities from motor vehicle crashes among children 12 and under were up by 10 percent. We know that now—more than ever—is the time to make sure your child is in the right seat, buckled up, and is in the back seat 100 percent of the time if they are under 13.

As a parent or caregiver, you know your children count on you to keep them safe. When traveling, the best ways to protect them are to place them in the right car seats for their ages and sizes, to install the seats correctly, and to ensure that the car seats fit properly in the back seat of your vehicle. Always take the time to read the car seat instructions and vehicle manual. The consequences of a misused car seat can be disastrous. According to the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly two out of three car seats are misused.

Research shows that when used correctly, car seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in cars, and by 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively, for infants and toddlers in light trucks.

As children grow and transition from one type of car seat to another, parents sometimes become less vigilant about ensuring that their child is properly buckled and in the right seat for their age and size. The latest data from NHTSA shows that when it comes to restraint use, more than one-third of the children who died in car crashes in 2015 were not buckled up at all, with the majority of them being children between 8 and 12. Of particular concern in Santa Cruz is the number of elementary age children improperly restrained. A health department survey at five area schools indicates that over 40% of children are either unrestrained or in need of a booster seat for proper seatbelt fit. Many parents believe that at age 8 their child can stop using a booster but unless that child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall, they most likely need to stay in a booster. Here is a simple quiz to determine if your child is ready to ride on the seat:

When your child sits with his/hers hips against the back of the seat…

1.      Do your child’s knees bend comfortably over the front of the seat?

2.     Does the shoulder belt cross the center of the shoulder?

3.     Is the lap belt low, touching the tops of the legs?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child still needs a booster.

There are two local events this month, part of Child Passenger Safety week, where parents and caregivers can have their children’s car seats inspected by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians who can teach them how to install their car seats properly to keep their children safe. Technicians can help parents and caregivers determine if their children are ready to move from rear-facing to forward-facing seats, from forward-facing seats to booster seats, or from booster seats to seat belts. The technicians can also show parents how to register their car seat with its manufacturer so that they’ll be notified in the case of recalls. The first event is at Dominican Hospital on 9/16/17. Call 462-7266 for an appointment. The second event is 9/23/17 at the Watsonville Fire Department and appointments can be made by calling 768-3209.

If you can’t make it to an event, you can still have your car seat checked at a Car Seat Inspection Station. A list of child passenger safety resources can be found at www.santacruzhealth.org.


Lynn Lauridsen, MPH, is a Senior Health Educator with the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency and a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.


Child car seat inspections by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians

Dominican Hospital on 9/16/17. Call 462-7266 for an appointment.

Watsonville Fire Department on 9/23/17. Call 768-3209 for an appointment.

Last Updated on Monday, 02 October 2017 00:29
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