National Child Passenger Safety Week will take place this year from September 18-24. This annual event is celebrated as a means of reminding parents and caregivers of the need to keep children of all ages properly restrained in a car seat that meets both their weight and height requirements.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes remain the leading cause of death for children ages three to fourteen.
In conjunction with this year’s event, Safe Kids USA has released a study that shows that proper use of safety seats has improved slightly, while the main area of concern is improper or non-use of top tethers. The research is the largest of its kind, using standardized data of 79,000 child safety seat inspections conducted over the course of an entire year.
The analysis focused on individual elements of successful child safety seat installations, in contrast to previous studies that focused on “gross levels of misuse” in child safety and booster seats.
Key study findings
A key finding concerned the use of top tethers. The study found that less than one-third of the forward-facing child seats arriving at seat check events used a top tether. This is the strap at the top of the child car seat that hooks into a tether anchor in the vehicle. Top tethers are mostly used on forward-facing car seats for children under 40-48 pounds.
Top tethers give children added protection by helping to reduce the forward movement of the child’s head in a crash. The study found that even those who used a top tether on a forward-facing seat, it was only used correctly 59 percent of the time.
Another important finding of the study is that parents are doing a better job keeping their children in rear-facing car seats for a longer period of time. Forty-one percent of children weighing more than 20 pounds and 32 percent of children over the age of one were still riding in rear-facing car seats. But there is a need for continuing parental and caregiver education about the criteria to transition between car-seat types.
Free car seat check
That’s where the free car seat check during National Child Passenger Safety Week comes in handy. It only takes a few minutes for a certified technician at one of the safety inspection stations nationwide to help give parents peace of mind by showing them how to properly remove and reinstall child safety and booster seats for children of all ages.
Find a free car seat check-up event by clicking on this link. During the week of September 18-24, Safe Kids USA will host more than 400 car seat check-up events across the country.
Safe Kids USA has a wealth of information and resources available to parents and caregivers through its website.