Keeping Children Safe




You can learn a lot about safety in just a few minutes. Car seat technicians from the Southern Ute Police Department and SUCAP Southern Ute Head Start observed parents dropping their students off one morning. The observers were able to look at 48 of the vehicles as they arrived at the drop off location on a Wednesday morning. Only 58 percent of the parents or family members properly protected their children as they arrived for class.

Colorado law requires that a child be properly protected in an age appropriate child seat. Here is a summary of the law:

Children must be restrained in boosters – or other appropriate child car seats – until they reach the age of 8. Parents searching for an appropriate child safety seat to meet the requirements in Colorado need to make sure the car seat matches the child’s weight, height and age:

  • Birth to 1-year-old and less than 20 lbs: Rear-facing seat, in the back seat only (no exceptions). While this is the law in Colorado, most experts recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing seat until 2 years old.
  • You should never place a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active airbag; this includes single-cab pickup trucks.
  • One through 3-years-old and at least 20 lbs: Forward-facing seat in the back seat of the vehicle. Your child should remain in the forward-facing seat only until they reach the upper weight limit set by the car seat manufacturer.
  • 4 through 7-years-old: Booster seat.
  • Beginning at 8-years-old: Standard vehicle safety belt.
  • While Colorado law allows children to use a standard seat belt at 8-years-old, it is recommended that you wait until your child is at least 4 ft 9 inches tall before transitioning to a seat belt, so as to avoid injury in case of an accident.

The car seat technicians found that the majority of the unsafe violations observed were placing children under eight in the backseat without a forward facing seat or a booster seat and seating children without a seat belt to protect them. Forty-five percent of children this age arrived to school unprotected this way. Younger students fared better. All infants in rear facing seats were protected properly. Forward facing seats were used properly 75% of the time when they were in the vehicle. If the booster or car seat was not visible in the car, the child would be left either unprotected or inadequately protected.

As car seat technicians we were not surprised by the findings. Only 46 percent of the drivers were seat belted. Adult passengers in the vehicles were worse off with only 25 percent of the vehicle passengers arriving seat belted. When fewer adults remember to buckle up for their own safety, it shows that fewer children are also buckled. Law enforcement cannot pull a vehicle over for just a seat belt violation (secondary offense). A child inadequately protected can be a (primary offense) cause for immediately pulling a vehicle over. This also is true for under 18 drivers as well (primary offense).

SUCAP Head Start is a car seat fitting station with low cost car seats available. Head Start has two technicians and the Southern Ute Police Department has one car seat technician. If anyone in the community needs help in installing car seats or questions about their fit and usage, Head Start can be reached at 970 563-4566 x29 and the Southern Ute Police Department at 970 563-0246.




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