Friday, December 11, 2009

Keeping Children Safe: Proper Use of Child Safety Restraints

The California Office of Traffic Safety has recently announced that it will endow a $207,000 state grant from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s funds for its “Keep ’Em Safe” program.

Under the program, parents will be taught how to safely transport children in vehicles and some 2,000 child-safety seats will be given for free to low-income families in San Diego County.

By far, car crashes are the leading cause of death for the age group 2 to 14 years old. The lack and misuse of child safety restraints is the primary cause of child passenger deaths and injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

The proper use of child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by as much as 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.

An 11-year old boy recently suffered serious head injuries because he was not properly restrained even by a seatbelt, in a rollover crash in Willits. A one-year old child also got hurt in the same accident because he also wasn’t secured in a child safety seat.

California imposes the following laws on proper child restraint:

• A child who is six years of age or older but less than 16 years of age, or who is less than six years of age and weighs 60 pounds or more, may not be transported in the motor vehicle without securing the child in an appropriate child passenger restraint system or safety belt.

• Any child under the age of six years old, weighing less than 60 pounds must be secured in a federally approved child passenger restraint system and ride in the back seat of a vehicle.

But even with a mandatory child restraint law, additional efforts should be made to address child passenger fatalities in California.

The “Keep ‘Em Safe” will not just provide families the equipment to keep their children safe but also the knowledge on how to actually and effectively use the child safety restraints in order to protect and save their children’s lives.