By AAA of Western and Central New York
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, and child traffic fatalities increased by 3% from 2019 (1,064) to 2020 (1,093), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, the percentage of injuries have decreased – NHTSA reports an estimated 139,042 children were injured in traffic crashes in 2020, a 24% decrease from 183,166 in 2019. Amid National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 18-24), AAA Western and Central New York is sharing tips for parents and caregivers in the U.S. about car seat installation and use.
According to NHTSA, 46% of car seats and booster seats are used incorrectly, while the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF) database reveals that more than half of all car seats brought in for inspection to child passenger safety technicians are improperly installed and used.
Data from the NDCF database also revealed:
√ There are three common mistakes. These include (1) having the car seat installation be too loose, (2) failing to use the tether when installing a forward-facing car seat with either the lower anchors or seat belt, and (3) leaving harness straps too loose when securing a child in a car seat.
√ Children are often transitioned out of the appropriate car seats before it is safe to do so. More than a quarter of children are moved from forward-facing car seats to booster seats too soon, and more than 90% of children using lap-and-shoulder seat belts under the age of 10 should still be in a car seat or booster seat.
√ Parents and caregivers are less likely to seek car seat inspections as children grow into forward-facing and booster car seats. Child passenger safety technicians inspect about four times the amount of rear-facing car seats than they do forward-facing car seats, and 73% of forward-facing seats are not correctly installed.
“On average, three children were killed and an estimated 380 children were injured every day in traffic crashes in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations at AAA Western and Central New York. "Those are disturbing statistics. AAA urges parents and caregivers to educate themselves and look for free resources, such as a virtual or in-person car seat inspections, in local communities.”
AAA Western and Central New York urges parents to get a car seat inspection so they can have confidence knowing that their child passenger is protected. AAA partners with local police agencies and the New York State Police to provide safety resources throughout the community. Child safety seat inspection stations can be located at https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/child-safety-seat-inspection-stations.
For more information on child passenger safety, visit www.AAA.com/SafeSeats4Kids.
As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.