SPRINGFIELD – It's National Child Passenger Safety Week and the state wants to make sure kids are buckled in or have properly installed booster seats when riding in cars.
On National Seat Check Saturday when certified child passenger safety technicians will provide free advice and hands-on child safety seat inspections at 88 events across Illinois.
This year’s campaign focuses on safety awareness, education and service especially to Head Start children and families. More than 52,800 children participated in Illinois Head Start during the 2011-2012 program year.
“Every child in Illinois depends on their parents or guardians for their safety,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “IDOT works diligently each day to further improve our effective child passenger program by providing parents and caregivers with the most current information on car seat safety. Our most important job is to help ensure our loved ones travel safely on state roadways.”
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children through age 13. Based on national crash data averages, nearly two children under 13 were killed and 338 were injured across the nation every day while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups and vans in 2011. In Illinois, an all-time high of 93.7 percent of citizens wear seat belts and 90.5 percent of children are traveling in car seats. However, IDOT data shows that only three of every five of those car seats are being used correctly.
“Since one of the leading causes of death and injury for children is automobile crashes, parents should make sure that their children are being transported safely and properly,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “Too many child safety seats are improperly installed. This year’s National Child Passenger Safety Week is a good time to encourage parents and caregivers to set up a child safety seat fitting to give parents the peace of mind that their children are properly secured.”
According to manufacturer instructions, parents and grandparents are encouraged to follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s car seat recommendation to keep children in their specific restraint types for as long as possible. For maximum safety, a parent or caregiver should have the car seat installation inspected by a certified child passenger safety technician to ensure their children are in the right seats for their age and size. Additional guidelines are as follows:
1. Rear-facing seats must remain in the back seat, from birth of child to the height and weight limit of the seat; recommended up to 2 years old, but at a minimum age of 12 months, and 20 pounds.
2. Forward-facing seats must be placed in the back seat after the child has reached the height or weight limit of the rear-facing seat, to about age 4 and 40-65 pounds.
3. Booster seats should be placed in the back seat on children age 4 to at least age 8.
4. Seat belts are for children age 8 or older, and taller than 4-foot-9.
In addition, all children age 13 or younger should ride in the back seat. Seat belt use is required by Illinois law in all automobile seating positions.
For more information on child passenger safety and on statewide seat checks taking place Sept. 21, visit www.buckleupillinois.org.