As autumn marches onward, and as parents across the nation settle wholly back into a routine of shuffling the kids off to school each morning, it hardly crosses our minds that some of those children might never return home. Ideally, this thought should never have to.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children, with an average of two kids aged 1-13 losing their lives per day. Often, these deaths might have been prevented had they been wearing seatbelts, or been properly restrained in booster or car seats.
It seems like you can’t drive more than two city blocks before seeing a bumper sticker telling the world that “precious cargo is on board.” And yet despite this admission that, yes, our youngest passengers are so precious, amid the everyday hustle and bustle of domestic life mistakes are made that can never be taken back. Restraint rules are overlooked, car seats aren’t safely secured, and somewhere in the nation, the light of someone’s life goes irrevocably dim.
In an effort to keep children safe in vehicles across the nation, each September NHTSA sponsors National Child Passenger Safety Week, which culminates with National Seat Check Saturday. This year’s Child Passenger Safety week was held from September 23-29, and from all the articles discussing it online, by all means it seems to be a successful one. When it comes to promoting awareness, it truly does take a village.
As part of their PSA push, NHTSA created a toolkit for parents and caregivers online. For those who might prefer or require Spanish-language options, you will find those as well.
National Child Passenger Safety week didn’t focus solely on improper use of restraints. One of the biggest issues plaguing the country today is children dying in hot cars. While incidents generally peak between Memorial and Labor Day, in California, where car temperatures regularly soar throughout the winter months, stemming the tide of infant deaths due to heat exhaustion has become a year-round statewide emergency.
So far this year at least 48 children have died from being left in hot cars. Statistics from the National Safety Council show just how bad it is:
- 87% of children who die in hot cars are 3 years or younger
- 54% were forgotten in a vehicle
- 28% were playing in an unattended vehicle
- 17% were intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult
The scariest of all is the 54% who were forgotten, which is why the NSC backs efforts to employ technology to remind exhausted parents to check the back seat before walking away. Both rear seat reminders and car seat technology (both of which beep when the car shuts off) might just save your child’s life. Always buckling up for safety, but never forget to unbuckle at the other end.
Even scarier still is that according to NHTSA, “Nearly half of all car seats are installed incorrectly, which means your child may not be traveling as safely as possible.”
National Seat Check Saturday plays an important role in trying to educate parents on the best practices of car seat safety, which we’ll be covering in more detail in a future post.
“The goal is to make sure your child is in the correct car seat, that it’s properly installed and used, and that it’s registered with its manufacturer to ensure you receive important safety updates,” says NHTSA. “Car seats and boosters are one of the easiest ways to keep your child safe and, when installed correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers.”
Unfortunately, despite the resources out there, a large number of parents continue to install car seats incorrectly. In 2016 alone, the lives of an estimated 328 children aged 5 and younger were saved by their car seats. Had they been properly restrained in a car or booster seat, a further 370 would have survived as well.
Take the time to ensure your child is safe as a passenger each and every time you drive. One mistake is all it takes. We can never forget that.
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Child Passenger Safety Week.” NHTSA. Retrieved 14 October 2018. https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/child-safety/child-passenger-safety-week
“Car Seat Safety.” NHTSA. Retrieved 14 October 2018. https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/child-safety/car-seat-safety
“Child Passenger Safety Week: Keep Kids Safe on the Road.” NHTSA. Retrieved 14 October 2018. https://www.nhtsa.gov/car-seats-and-booster-seats/child-passenger-safety-week
“Car Seats and Booster Seats.” NHTSA. Retrieved 14 October 2018. https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats?_ga=2.165873022.1927420185.1539735653-271891262.1539735653
“CHP partnering with agencies to launch campaign to reduce number of children killed in collisions.” The E.W. Scripps Co. Retrieved 14 October 2018. https://www.turnto23.com/news/local-news/chp-partnering-with-agencies-to-launch-campaign-to-reduce-number-of-children-killed-in-collisions
“Child Passenger Safety.” National Safety Council. Retrieved 14 October 2018. https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/child-passenger-safety