TRENTON – State officials announced new car seat recommendations for children Monday, highlighting the annual Child Passenger Safety Week which features a public information campaign and safety events to be held throughout New Jersey.
Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky announced the new recommendations, which were issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The AAP now recommends that children over age one remain in a rear facing child safety seat up to the top height or weight limit of the rear facing seat, or until the child outgrows the rear facing seat. A rear-facing seat provides support for the head, neck, and spine, and parents should use child safety seats with higher weight and height limits for these young children.
The new guidelines encourage parents to keep their children in the appropriate car seat until that child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the seat’s manufacturer. Children would graduate from a rear-facing car seat to a front-facing seat and then to a booster seat as they grow. All child passengers should always be buckled up in the back seat.
“With these new guidelines, we can give parents more insight on keeping their children safe,” Dow said. “Crashes are the leading cause of death for children from ages one to 12. The numbers clearly illustrate the danger of not properly securing your child in a vehicle.”
Child Passenger Safety Week is an annual campaign to bring public attention to the importance of properly securing all children in appropriate car seats, booster seats or seat belts – every trip, every time. The campaign ends on Sept. 24 with National Seat Check Saturday, when certified child passenger safety technicians will provide advice and hands-on car seat inspections nationwide for free.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), three out of four children are not as secure in the car as they should be because their car seats are not being used correctly.
In motor vehicle crashes, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than one and by 54 percent for children one to four in passenger cars, according to data collected by NHTSA. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks. And among those who were fatally injured where restraint use was known, 42 percent were unrestrained. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size.
“Now is the time to check and recheck how you’re securing and keeping your children safe,” Poedubicky said. “This is an opportunity for parents to educate themselves and potentially prevent a horrible tragedy.”
The Division of Highway Traffic safety has offered the following tips to use when you buckle up your child.
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
For a list of Child Passenger Safety Week events near you, visit http://wwwnj.gov/oag/hts/downloads/Seat_Check_Sat_Events_NJ.pdf.
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