Parents, while you are traveling, how do you protect the most precious thing in your life? You place your child in the proper car seat to protect them from a crash. The technology has improved from the old days when a mother would place her hand on a child while she braked hard. Today you have car seats based on the size and age of a child to maximize their protection. But how many parents are paying attention to the amount of protection they give their children?
A car safety seat survey was taken February at the SUCAP Head Start in Ignacio using car seat technicians from Head Start and law enforcement personnel from the Southern Ute Police Department to survey 47 vehicles. The results were interesting. Parents and guardians driving up to the school had their seatbelts fastened for only 68 percent of the drivers. Would the passengers be better? No, only 50 percent of the adult passengers were buckled up in the vehicles.
Would the numbers prove greater protection for their children being dropped off to school? Infants placed in a rear facing car seat were strapped in 91 percent of the time. Not perfect, but a fairly high compliance of protection for the youngest infants. Convertible child seats that hold the widest age range of children, correctly held only 67 percent of the children arriving for classes. One third of the children that age or size had no car seat in the car or were not buckled in their car seat. This statistically matches with the one third of parents that were not buckled up. It gets worse. Booster seats are mandatory by Colorado law until age eight. Correct booster seat usage was observed at 40 percent and for older children in seatbelts – only 29 percent were buckled in.
What can be learned from all of this? Car seats were found in almost every vehicle surveyed. More car seats could be seen on this survey than any of the other surveys that have taken place over the last ten years. Parents have invested in car seats protection. Sometimes parents were short the correct number of car seats. We observed failures to correctly protect children when children were not placed in the car seat but were sitting alongside their empty car seat. Sometimes the car seat was not buckled and the child left without the protection. Or, sometimes the smallest infants or toddlers were placed in a booster seat designed to protect a larger child.
Our goal is to see 100% of the children protected by correct car seat usage 100% of the time. The car seats are out there. The trained technicians are available to help at both SUCAP Head Start and the Southern Ute Police Department. Our community cares enough to make each child as safe as possible.
Contact SUCAP Technicians Michael Tom at 970-563-4566, ext. 29 and Kate Jones at 970-563-4566, ext. 29 or Contact Community Resource Officer Don Folsom at 970-563-0246, ext. 3310.