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New Data Reveal Incorrect Use of Child Safety Seats Still a Major Problem in the United States

National SAFE KIDS Campaign to Open 30 New Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations Across the Country


According to the largest national sample to date of child safety seat use by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the majority of child safety seats continue to be used incorrectly.  This leaves cause for concern for the thousands of families who travel by car.

Through the National SAFE KIDS Campaign's child passenger safety program, SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP(R), sponsored by the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources and General Motors Corporation, the Campaign analyzed the incorrect use patterns of more than 37,000 child safety seats and vehicle safety belts observed at SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP Car Seat Check Up events from February 2001 to May 2002.

Overall, 81.6 percent of the child restraints were used incorrectly, with an average of three errors per incorrectly used restraint. The most startling figures were found when looking at rear-facing seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses.  Specific findings include:

62 percent of children in rear-facing seats and 67 percent of children in forward-facing seats were in restraints with the safety belt not locking the seat in tightly.

65 percent of children in rear-facing seats and 67 percent of children in forward-facing seats were in restraints with loose harness straps.

"We are concerned to find that incorrect use of child safety seats continues to plague unknowing parents and caregivers across the country," said Heather Paul, Ph.D., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. "These seemingly small mistakes can lead to tragic consequences for children, especially when compounded by multiple errors."

To address these common mistakes, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign continues to provide resources to educate parents and caregivers about the correct installation and use of child safety seats.

On August 28, 2002, 30 SAFE KIDS coalitions across the country will launch child safety seat inspection stations.  The inspection stations will offer parents and caregivers personal instruction from certified technicians on the proper use and installation of child safety seats.  They will also offer set hours of operation, so parents and caregivers can plan their schedules accordingly. The inspection stations were made possible by the generous support of the UAW- GM Center for Human Resources and General Motors Corporation.

"We hope that parents will take advantage of these regularly scheduled opportunities to get child safety seats inspected.  This is one more service we hope will contribute to a decline in the number of children who are incorrectly restrained or not restrained at all," added Paul.

"With the opening of these new inspection stations, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign is providing a critical service to America's families," said Marion Blakey, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. "Many young lives have been saved by the SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP program and with the release of these new numbers it is apparent that there is still more work to be done."

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of unintentional injury- related death among children ages 14 and under. More than 1,600 child occupants ages 14 and under die every year, and an estimated 248,000 children suffer injuries.

Changes are also being made in vehicles and child safety seats. LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), a system that can make child safety seat installation easier without using seat belts, will be required on all child safety seats and vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002. Attachments on a LATCH-equipped child safety seat fasten directly to anchors in a LATCH-equipped vehicle.

Although LATCH can make installation simpler for parents and caregivers, it will not completely solve the problem of incorrect use.  Education on the correct use of child safety seats, as well as installation using LATCH, is a critical component.

To keep children safe, whether installing a seat using LATCH or a seat belt system, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends the following:

  • Always read and follow the vehicle owner's manual and child safety seat instructions.

  • Choose a child safety seat that is appropriate for the child's size and age.

  • Get a tight fit.  An installed child safety seat should not move more than 1 inch from side to side or toward the front of the vehicle.

  • Keep harness straps snug and flat.  Fasten the harness clip at armpit level. 

  • Restrain all children ages 12 and under properly in the back seat on every ride, and NEVER put a rear-facing child in a front seat with an active passenger air bag. 

  • Be certain that everyone in the car is correctly buckled, even on short trips.


LATCH and the new inspection stations are good news for families, in light of the Campaign's study that found the majority of parents attending child safety seat checkup events continue to make mistakes when using child restraints.

To find out more about the nearest SAFE KIDS child safety seat inspection station or event in your area, or for more information on using child safety seats correctly, parents and caregivers can visit http://www.safekids.org/ .

SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP is a program of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.  Its goal is to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of properly buckling up their children on every ride.  Since its launch in 1997, more than 265,000 child safety seats have been inspected by SAFE KIDS coalitions nationwide.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury -- the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico comprise the Campaign.  Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D., is chairman of the Campaign.

A total of 30 SAFE KIDS coalitions across the country will launch child safety seat inspection stations during Labor Day weekend.  The inspection stations will offer parents and caregivers personal instruction from certified technicians on the proper use and installation of child safety seats, as well as set hours of operation so parents and caregivers can plan their schedules accordingly.  They were made possible by the generous support of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources and the General Motors Corporation.

Inspection stations will open in the following cities (please check http://www.safekids.org/ for hours of operation and street locations):

Sacramento, CA (SAFE KIDS Greater Sacramento)
New London, CT (SAFE KIDS Connecticut State)
Wilmington, DE (SAFE KIDS Delaware State)
Tampa, FL (SAFE KIDS Greater Tampa Area)
Marietta, GA (SAFE KIDS Cobb County)
Champaign, IL (SAFE KIDS Champaign County)
Chicago, IL (SAFE KIDS Chicagoland)
Indianapolis, IN (SAFE KIDS Indianapolis)
Topeka, KS (SAFE KIDS Shawnee County)
West Springfield, MA (SAFE KIDS Western Massachusetts)
Wheaton, MD (SAFE KIDS Montgomery County)
Holland, MI (SAFE KIDS Lakeshore)
Choctaw, MS (SAFE KIDS Choctaw)
Charlotte, NC (SAFE KIDS Charlotte-Mecklenburg)
Greenville, NC (SAFE KIDS Pitt County)
Hastings, NE (SAFE KIDS Tri-Cities)
Essex, NJ (SAFE KIDS New Jersey State)
Las Vegas, NV (SAFE KIDS Clark County)
Cleveland, OH (SAFE KIDS Greater Cleveland)
Toledo, OH (SAFE KIDS Greater Toledo)
Akron, OH (SAFE KIDS Summit County)
Harrisburg, PA (SAFE KIDS Dauphin County)
Greenwood, SC (SAFE KIDS Greenwood)
Houston, TX (SAFE KIDS Greater Houston)
Del Rio, TX (SAFE KIDS Val Verde)
Salt Lake City, UT (SAFE KIDS Utah State)
Richmond, VA (SAFE KIDS Richmond Area)
Walla Walla, WA (SAFE KIDS Blue Mountain)
Ellensburg, WA (SAFE KIDS Washington State)
Cheyenne, WY (SAFE KIDS Wyoming)
           
                                   

Click here to view Car Safety from Hotel Fun 4 Kids

For More Car Safety News go to 

Data Show Older Children Dying More Frequently, Not Buckling Up in Car Crashes, Says AAA Chicago

Tips on Flying with Children and Car Seats from the National Safe Kids Campaign

Car Riding Rules for Tots and Teens from Club Mom - Safety issues you may not have considered before

Safe Kids Canada applauds Ontario Minister for introducing booster seat bill aimed at reducing injuries among young children

Booster Seat Basics

Preventing Heat Injury and Entrapment in Cars

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