Child Passenger Safety Week highlights importance of having seats checked

Colo. Dept. of Transportation

Every day in America, millions of parents and caregivers travel with children in their vehicles. While some children are buckled in properly — most are not, if they are buckled up at all. This week is national Child Passenger Safety Week, and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) are reminding Colorado parents to make sure their children are riding safely at all times.

“Every 33 seconds, a child is involved in a car crash,” said CSP Trooper Tim Sutherland, Child Passenger Safety Coordinator for Car Seats Colorado, a partnership between the CSP and CDOT. “This is exactly why parents need to be extra vigilant when it comes to car seat safety and protecting their children.”

So far in 2018, 12 children under the age of 15 have lost their lives on Colorado roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only one in four children is properly secured when riding in a vehicle, putting the majority at severe risk of injury or death. Child Passenger Safety Week aims to raise awareness about child passenger safety laws and the importance of correctly using car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

This is a mission particularly close to home for Trooper Sutherland, who nearly lost his life in an unbuckled car crash as a child.

“To this day, 30 years later, I still find pieces of glass in my head,” said Sutherland, who was ejected from the vehicle through the windshield. “We have so much more information and better technology and resources than we did back then, but it is up to the parents to make use of it and keep their kids safe.”

Factors contributing to improperly restrained children include an incorrectly installed car seat, use of a car seat that does not fit the child based on their size and the seat manufacturer’s limits, and not properly securing the harness or seat belt.

For these reasons, Car Seats Colorado encourages parents and caregivers to have their car seat checked to ensure proper fit and use at one of these upcoming events during Child Passenger Safety Week:

For a full list of locations offering free car seat inspections statewide throughout the year, visit CarSeatsColorado.com. Those interested can also contact their local fire station or law enforcement agency to see if they offer car seat inspections.

“Properly securing your child in a car seat, booster or seat belt is the single most important action you can take to protect them,” said Sam Cole, CDOT Communications Manager. “It’s never worth risking your child’s life by not following the appropriate measures to keep them safe when riding in a vehicle.”

Laura Henderson is a mother of two young children. One day last October, she was driving through Cherry Creek with her kids when another driver ran a red light and T-boned her vehicle — crushing the side of her car, right where her 2-year-old son was sitting. Luckily, he was properly secured in his car seat, which may well have prevented him from getting seriously injured or worse. Although shaken and scared, both children were unharmed in the crash that totaled Henderson’s car.

“No matter how good of a driver you are, things happen that you never expect, said Henderson. “You don’t put your kids in the car knowing you’re going to get in a crash. But now every time I strap my kids in, I strap them in as if that is the trip where it might happen again.”

Car Seats Colorado provides education and tools for both parents and car seat technicians statewide, offering resources including training courses, car seat fit checks and safety guidelines to make sure no parent is ever in the dark when it comes to understanding car seat safety.

“Our goal is to provide the tools and resources necessary to help educate parents on the laws and safety guidelines protecting their kids — because their lives depend on it,” said Cole.

Car Seats Colorado is offering the following tips for ensuring your child is properly secured:

  • Visit a certified car seat safety technician to verify your car seat is installed correctly. You can find a list of inspection stations online at CarSeatsColorado.com.
  • Review car seat fit recommendations. Double check whether your child is in the appropriate seat for their age and/or size based on NHSTA’s safety guidelines.
  • Ensure the harness is secure. If after you’ve tightened your child into his or her car seat, you can still pinch the fabric of the harness straps between your fingers, the harness is too loose. Straps should be snug and have no slack.

Car Seats Colorado is comprised of the Colorado State Patrol, CDOT, local car seat technicians, law enforcement, emergency services and other professionals who are dedicated to implementing child passenger safety programs and encouraging parents to take the necessary steps to protect their children when in vehicles. Learn more about how to keep children safe in vehicles and download informational resources at CarSeatsColorado.com.

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