National Seat Check Saturday

by Don Elliott on September 21, 2011

Nothing contributes more to the used car value of your vehicle than features that provide for the safety of your family. The proper use of your vehicle’s restraint system, in conjunction with a properly fitted car seat, has proven to save lives and reduce injuries.

Saturday, September 24, 2011 is National Seat Check Saturday. 34,000 certified child passenger safety technicians will be inspecting car seats free of charge all across the country.

National Seat Check Saturday is the big event wrapping up the 2011 Child Passenger Safety Week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sponsored this event for the past several years since September 2007 with surprising results.

Technicians find that 9 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly or have car seat safety issues that could harm your child. Usually the quick inspection by a trained technician can spot potential problems that could cause injury in an accident or even a quick stop.

All 50 states require children to be restrained in motor vehicles. NHTSA adopted the first federal guidelines in 1971. At that time, the standard required a forward facing car seat to be restrained with a seat belt. It wasn’t until 2002 that a universal anchorage system called Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) was implemented. The results of the system have been impressive.

An estimated 8,959 lives have been saved in the period between 1975 and 2008. However, an average of four children lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents every day. Use of child safety car seats have shown to reduce fatal injury to infants by 71% and to toddlers by 54%. Unfortunately, according to 2008 NHTSA statistics, 34% of the fatalities of children 4 and under were totally unrestrained.

This week, NHTSA updated their car seat safety recommendations for children. New recommendations include the following:

  • Choose a car seat based on your child’s age and size
    • Birth-12months – rear facing car seat
    • 1-3 years – rear facing car seat until your child reaches the height and weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
    • 4-7 years – forward facing car seat with a harness
    • 8-12 years – Booster seat until your child fits in a seat belt properly.
  • Make sure the car seat properly fits in your car and use it every time.
  • Check the car seat manufacturer’s instructions to be sure that you are installing the car seat correctly.
  • Keep your child in the back seat at least until the age of 12.

Rear facing car seats should not be used in the front seat of your car or truck. The passenger-side airbag striking the rear facing car seat could injure the child, regardless of age.

More information on child passenger safety can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, www.nhtsa.gov.

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