Is My Child as Safe as Possible in the Car? – The Question Every Parent Needs to Ask

By NHTSA and Traffic Safety Marketing

Of the many questions you ask yourself every day, “Is my child as safe as possible in the car?” should be at the top of your list. The answer could be the difference between life, serious injury and death for your child.

Car crashes are a leading killer of children age 1 to 13. From 2007 to 2011 an estimated 634,000 children under 13 in cars, pickups, vans and SUVs were injured in crashes.

safe car seatA child is much more fragile – and thus much more vulnerable in a car crash — than an adult. Your children count on you to keep them safe; it’s not just about putting them in car seats. The best way to protect your children is to place them in the right seats for their ages and size, install them correctly, and ensure that the car seats fit in your vehicle.

Research shows child restraints and booster seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers in cars, and 58 percent and 59 percent for infants and toddlers in SUVs, pickups and vans.

Some parents reading this may think their children are already safe because they ride in a large vehicle. But the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that SUVs are involved in a far larger number of crash-related deaths for children than other vehicles. Worse yet, over half of all children who died while riding in SUVs weren’t buckled in at the time of their deaths. Many families choose SUVs as their primary vehicles due to the number of passengers they can carry and the perceived safety of their size. But the vehicle alone can’t keep your kids safe.

That’s why events such as Child Passenger Safety Week, September 15-21, 2013, are so critical in helping parents choose the right seat for their children and learning how to use them the right way and travel with children safely.

The highlight of the week is National Seat Check Saturday, September 21, where parents, guardians and other caregivers can have their children’s car seats inspected by Certified Child Passenger Safety technicians and learn how to install them the right way to keep their children safe. Technicians can help parents and caregivers determine if their children are ready to move from rear-facing to forward-facing seats, from forward-facing seats to booster seats or RideSafer Travel Vest, or from booster seats to seat belts. The technicians can also help make sure that your car seat is registered so that you’ll be notified in case your car seat is recalled.

Parents, guardians and caregivers can also visit to learn other tips on car seat safety, watch how-to videos and sign up for car seat recall notifications.

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