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Don’t take shortcuts with children’s car safety

By Ken Gibson on March 31, 2017

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children older than 3 in the United States, and they cause almost 180,000 injuries each year.

Child safety seats lower the risk of death for infant passengers by 71 percent, and preschoolers by 54 percent—if used correctly. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following helpful guidelines:

  1. Use rear-facing seats in the back seat for babies until age 2 (or until weight and height maximums are exceeded for the seat).
  2. Use forward-facing car seats in the back seat for kids older than age 2 until they grow out of them, (according to the seat manufacturer’s recommendations).
  3. Use belt-positioning booster seat for school-age children until a regular seat belt fits properly.
  4. Kids big enough for regular seat belts should remain in the back seat until age 13 before graduating to the front seat.

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine had researchers stake out gas stations, fast-food restaurants, childcare and recreation centers, and other popular spots, to monitor parents’ use of safety seats for children. The most striking finding was that very few parents were following safety guidelines as children got older. Many children as young as age 5 were sitting in the front seat, often unrestrained. Overall, a very low percent of children were using the restraints recommended for their age groups.

Questions? If you live in or near Gloucester, visit the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office, 7502 Justice Drive, to meet a child safety seat-certified officer and get your questions answered. Just call ahead for an appointment (804) 693-3890. For more information and other car seat inspection sites, visit Parents Central | Keeping Kids Safe | NHTSA.

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