Written by Wolf Point Herald
Research shows that three out of four children are not as secure in their car seats as they should be because the car seats are not being used correctly. The Montana Department of Transportation urges parents and care providers to have their children’s car seats checked during National Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 16-22.
Many counties have local inspection stations and/or certified child passenger safety technicians who can ensure the child’s car seat is being used properly. To find the nearest technician or inspection station, call 1-877-330-BUCKL (2825) or go to http://www.buckleup.mt.gov/children.shtml.
In a passenger vehicle crash, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than one-year-old and by 54 percent for children ages one to four-years-old, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA recently released updated car seat recommendations for children through age 12. The recommendations emphasize the importance of keeping children in the correct sized seat and not advancing to the next step or size too soon.
Birth To 12 Months
For the best possible protection, a child under age one-year-old should always ride in a rear-facing car seat with a harness. There are different types of rear-facing car seats. Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position than an infant seat.
1 To 3 Years
Children should remain in rear-facing car seat until reaching the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age two or older.
4 To 7 Years
Keep the children in forward-facing car seat with a harness until reaching the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seats manufacturer.
8 To 12 Years
Children should ride in a booster seat until big enough to fit 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 snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
•Select a car seat based on the child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in the vehicle. Secure the child in the car seat every trip.
•Refer to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. Read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system, and check height and weight limits.
•To maximize safety, keep the child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
•Children should ride in the back seat until at least age 12.
•Montana’s child restraint law states that all children must be properly restrained up to age six and 60 pounds. Law enforcement officers are enforcing this law to ensure Montana’s most vulnerable passengers are riding safely at all times.
For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.
For live updates, follow @childseatsafety on Twitter or join the community of parents, advocates and safety experts on http://www.facebook.com/childpassengersafety.