CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) — Governor Jim Justice has proclaimed September 18-24 as Child Passenger Safety Week in West Virginia. The proclamation was requested by the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP), which is working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of the national observation for Child Passenger Safety Week. The week is dedicated to educating parents, grandparents, and caregivers about the importance of correctly choosing, installing, and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
“Life is busy for many West Virginia families. Making sure our most precious resource—our children—are as safe as can be when they’re passengers in a vehicle is so important. That’s why I encourage you to make time this week to double and triple check your child’s car seat or booster seat,” said Gov. Justice.
“We hope that Child Passenger Safety Week will provide an opportunity for parents, grandparents, and caregivers to learn best practices to ensure their child is as safe as possible when in a truck, car, SUV, or van. Parents and grandparents do so much, but this may be one of the most important things they can do,” said Amy Boggs, Child Passenger Safety Program Coordinator for the GHSP.
Two children under 13 years of age were killed every day in 2020 in the U.S. while riding in vehicles.
“No parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to a child’s safety. Don’t wait for a crash to happen to find out if your child’s seat is installed correctly. At that point, it’s too late to check. Don’t guess, know that your child’s seat is installed correctly,” Boggs continued.
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children, and the latest research from NHTSA shows that nearly half (46%) of car seats are misused. Boggs emphasized that using size- and age-appropriate car seats and installing them correctly are the best ways to reduce these deaths.
“More than one-third of children 12 and younger who died in crashes in 2020 while riding in cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs were not properly restrained – whether in a car seat or with a seat belt. Many of those kids could have survived if they had been properly secured in the vehicle,” Boggs concluded.
From 2016 to 2020, there were 1,721 “tweens” (8 to 14 years old) killed in passenger vehicles, and in 2020 alone, the 8-12-year-old age group had the highest number of fatalities (216) among children in passenger vehicles. In 2020, an estimated 101,656 children riding in passenger vehicles were injured in crashes.
Car Seats Versus Booster Seats
There is also a deadly misconception that a certain type of vehicle may offer greater protection for your child. In 2020, 53% of unrestrained children killed in vehicle crashes were riding in light trucks, followed closely by SUVs (46%), passenger cars (34%), and vans (34%). Children are safest when correctly secured in the right car seat or booster seat for their size regardless of the vehicle type. No matter how safe you think your vehicle may be, it is never safe, nor legal, to let your child ride unbuckled.
NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height or weight allowed by the particular seats. It’s the best way to keep them safe. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, a child should be placed in a booster seat until she or he is tall enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
It is critical that parents and caregivers ensure that, if a child is too large or old for a car seat, they are first put into a booster seat until the seat belt can fit correctly. Booster seats are an essential step between car seats and seat belts. These transitional seats position the seat belt so it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Don’t feel pressured to put your child in a seat belt too soon. If your child is ready to use a seat belt, ensure the seat belt fits correctly. The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seat.
Learn About Car Seat Safety
Child Passenger Safety Week ends with National Seat Check Saturday on September 24, 2022. The GHSP facilitates Child Passenger Safety year-round with fitting stations across West Virginia that are staffed with nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians who have been specifically trained on child car seat installation and best practices. To find a fitting station near you, visit dmv.wv.gov/cps.
Parents and caregivers can access free online resources available at nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats. Notable resources on this site include:
- Car Seat Types
- Car Seat Recommendations
- Find and Compare
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov or call 304-926-2509.