Proper use of car seats
By Stephanie Johns
The headline read “Wreck kills child.” The story detailed how a 4-year-old boy from Monroe died Jan. 28 in a car accident on Georgia Highway 83.
This tragedy, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident.
SFC Justin Howard noted this crash touches a lot of people.
“It’s a learning experience for everybody,” he said.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) at www.nhtsa.gov, “Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States.”
Sgt. Marc Meeler with the Georgia State Patrol in Madison said this whole situation is “very frustrating.”
He noted all of the troopers are certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. Drivers can make an appointment to have a trooper look over the child seat and ensure it is installed and used correctly.
Meeler said child car seat safety is dependent on many factors: not only the seat but also the weight, size, and age of the child.
“Children must be one year old to turn around in a seat and have it face the front,” he said. “Best practice: rear facing until two years old.”
Howard added that the type of vehicle is another factor.
Changes in the Booster Seat Law went into effect on July 1, 2011 but Meeler said the public is uninformed about it overall.
Prior to this date children up to age six had to be restrained in a booster seat. After this date, children must be in a booster seat up to age eight.
Howard added in spite of the law troopers see a lot of unsafe situations: children standing in the back floor of a vehicle or two-year-old children in booster seats.
“We won’t know who it saves but you always know who it didn’t,” he said.
Data found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov noted that “during 2009, 1,314 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 179,000 were injured.”
This site also pointed out that “Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use” and “Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly.”
So what can a driver do to ensure the safety of their youngest passengers?
First, the CDC recommends drivers set a good example by wearing a seat belt, no matter how short the trip may be.
Second, drivers should follow the advice of the NHTSA: “put them in the right seat, at the right time, and use it the right way.”
What exactly is the right seat? The CDC offers several guidelines:
• For newborns through age 2, children should be in a rear-facing child safety seat.
• For ages 2 to 4, up to 40 pounds, children should be in a forward-facing child safety seat.
• For ages 4 to 8 OR until 4’9” tall, children should be in a booster seat.
• For ages 8 AND/OR 4’9” tall, children should use a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits them properly.
Printed in the February 7, 2013 edition