Chief George McNeil and the Somerset Police Department would like to remind parents to make sure their children are properly buckled and in the correct car seat for their age and size as part of Child Passenger Safety Week.
This week, Sept. 20-26, is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as Child Passenger Safety Week.
According to the NHTSA, every 32 seconds in 2018 one child under the age of 13 in a passenger vehicle was involved in a crash. Many times, injuries and deaths can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts.
“We would like to stress the importance of children under the age of 13 riding in the back seat of vehicles,” Chief McNeil said. “Per Massachusetts law, parents should keep their children in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old or 57 inches tall. These simple safety measures could potentially save your child’s life during a crash.”
To keep your child safe, the Somerset Police Department recommends making sure they’re in the correct car seat based on the following guidelines from the NHTSA:
The Right Car Seat for Your Child
- Infants under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. A rear-facing car seat has a harness, and in a crash it cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.
- Once your child outgrows a rear-facing car seat, they can be moved to a forward-facing car seat. Forward-facing car seats have a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash. Tethers should always be used for forward-facing car seats.
- Once your child outgrows a forward-facing car seat, they can be moved to a booster seat. A booster seat positions the seat belt so that it is properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
- For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. The proper placement of a seat belt restrains the child safely in a crash.
- Your child should not be moved to the next car seat level until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. In 2015, about 25.8% of children ages 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to seat belts, when they should still have been riding in booster seats.
- Children under 13 should ALWAYS ride in the back seat.
Massachusetts parents are reminded that Massachusetts State Law requires that all children ride in an approved child safety seat until they are 8 years old and 57 inches tall.
Always make sure your car seat is installed correctly. When installed correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. While most parents and caregivers are confident that they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, almost half (46%), have been installed incorrectly. Read and carefully follow the installation instructions included with a car seat, as well as the vehicle’s owner’s manual.
It is also recommended that all car seats are registered with their manufacturers in case of a safety recall. This step will help ensure that you will be notified if a defect is discovered with your car seat so it can be repaired or replaced to keep your child safe.
Additional information on child safety seats can be found at www.nhtsa.gov.