Gov. Eric J. Holcomb Monday issued a proclamation recognizing September 20-26 as Child Passenger Safety Week, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of proper child seat safety.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. In fact, one child under the age of 13 was involved in a passenger vehicle crash every 32 seconds in 2018.
Research shows that when used correctly, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in cars.
“Our top responsibility, as parents, is to keep our children safe, and that includes making sure they are buckled in and in the right kind of seat,” said Devon McDonald, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Executive Director. “Proper child seat usage saves lives, and I commend Governor Holcomb for recognizing the importance of this issue.”
To ensure children are riding safely, there are more than 100 fitting stations in Indiana where parents can have their child’s car seat inspected by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. There, they can also learn about proper car seat installation and ask questions about transitioning their child to another type of seat.
This week, the criminal justice institute announced it will be distributing iPads to these locations, paid for with federal funds, to expand the services being offered. Once online, the devices will be synced to NHTSA’s new SaferCar App, which will allow visitors to register their car or booster seat and check for recalls while having their car seat inspected.
“Proper car seat use remains a struggle, as nearly half of all car seats in the U.S. are misused,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “Think of how many injuries could be prevented with proper use.”
Duckworth added that proper use involves more than selecting the right car seat for the child’s age and size, it also requires proper location, installation, direction and harness use. While he recommends visiting a fitting station, NHTSA’s Car Seat Finder tool can also help families find the right car seat and learn more about proper installation.
ICJI recommends keeping the child rear-facing and in a car seat for as long as possible, up to the top height or weight limit allowed by the particular seat. That information, along with much more, can be found in the manufacturer’s car seat instructions. Children under 13 should always sit in the back seat.
Additionally, it’s important to register the car or booster seat with the manufacturer, as this will make sure families receive notification in the event of a recall.
Indiana law requires children less than eight years of age to be properly restrained in a federally approved child restraint system. Although seat belts are required for all ages, the driver is responsible for making sure any passenger in their vehicle under the age of 16 is properly restrained.
For a list of child seat inspection stations broken down by county, please visit: www.childseat.in.gov. The locations are managed through a partnership between ICJI and the Automotive Safety Program at the IU School of Medicine. The program works annually to certify additional technicians to further expand Indiana’s network of fitting stations.