(LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19, 2011) — Four out of five children age 6 to 8 who were killed in automobile crashes in 2009 were either improperly restrained or not belted at all, according to an analysis of National Highway Transportation Safety Administration federal crash data conducted by AAA and released during National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 18-24.
“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 Anita Lorz, manager of the Auto Club’s Community Affairs and Traffic Safety programs. “The Auto Club reminds parents to properly restrain their children on every trip and avoid common errors made out of convenience or carelessness.”
As children head back to school and family schedules become hectic with after-school activities, busy parents might unknowingly risk their children’s safety when on the road.”
New guidelines from the American Pediatric Association advise parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. The group also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
To commemorate National Child Passenger Safety Week, the Auto Club along with child safety advocates, the Riverside Police Dept. and California Highway Patrol, will host a free community car seat clinic at the Target store parking lot, 3520 Tyler St., on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Also featuring First 5 Riverside, Safe Kids Inland Empire, and Riverside County Dept. of Public Health’s Injury Prevention Services, the car seat clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The clinic will focus on helping motorists understand how to install child safety seats from infant size to booster and inspection of a child’s car seat for proper fit and usage, according Lorz.
California has been a leader on child passenger safety (CPS) and was one of the first states to upgrade its child passenger safety law. The Golden State is in the top 10 in the nation for the greatest number of number of CPS seat technicians (737) in the nation, according to the Auto Club.
Under California law, children must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat until they’re at least 6 years old or weigh 60 lbs. in the rear seat. Safety seats reduce risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Using a booster seat with a seat belt for older children instead of a seat belt alone reduces the risk of injury by 59 percent, according to the Auto Club.
More information about California’s law and tips for seat installation for parents can be found in the Auto Club’s Birth to Boosters brochure, which is available free of charge at the Auto Club’s branches. Parents can also contact local California Highway Patrol offices for car seat inspections.