Iowa continues to be a leader in child passenger safety with new reports showing the state’s child restraint usage at 94 percent in 2011. Traffic fatalities for children under the age of 14 were down: six children were killed in vehicle crashes in 2011, compared with eight children in 2010.
As National Child Passenger Safety Week continues Sept. 16 – 22, 2012, the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) reminds all parents and caregivers to buckle up their children every time they’re in a vehicle, and to ensure that car seats and booster seats are being properly fitted and used.
“Don’t take your child’s safety for granted,” said Brandi Thompson of Blank Children’s Hospital. “Review best practices for car seats and booster seats based on your child’s height and weight, don’t just assume you know. If you’re not sure, visit our online car seat calculator or ask a certified passenger safety technician to help.”
Car crashes are the number one killer of children in the U.S. An average of two children are killed and 325 injured each day on U.S. roadways, according to 2010 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Child passenger statistics:
- Nationwide, 1,210 children under the age of 14 were killed in crashes in 2010, which is an eight percent decrease from 2009, when 1,314 were killed.
- In addition to fatalities, approximately 40 – 60 Iowa children are seriously injured in vehicle crashes each year.
- The first child passenger safety law was implemented in 1985. Before the law, observational surveys estimate that only about 20 percent of young children were restrained while riding in vehicles.
- All 50 states have some type of child restraint law. Iowa strengthened its law in 2004 to require children under age 6 to be restrained in either a child safety seat or booster seat. In addition, it required children ages 6 to 11 to ride in either a booster seat or adult belt.
- In 2010, Iowa again strengthened its law to require everyone up to the age of 18 to wear a safety belt, regardless of their seating position in the vehicle, i.e., in the front seat and the back seat. Children under the age of 13 are required to sit in the back seat of a vehicle.
The GTSB continues to educate parents and caregivers about frequently observed types of car seat and booster seat misuse. An astounding three out of four children are not restrained as securely as they should be, according to NHTSA. The most common types of misuse or non-use of child safety restraints in Iowa include:
- Children ages 2 – 5 not restrained by a child safety seat
- Children ages 6 – 8 graduated prematurely to an adult safety belt
- Nearly 6 percent of children are not restrained by any means
- About 10 percent of children under age 11 ride inappropriately in the front seat of vehicles
Page 2 of 2 - When worn correctly, seat belts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to infants by 71 percent and for toddlers by 54 percent.
“From a very young age, we can teach our children the importance of buckling up every time, and everywhere, when riding in a vehicle,” Thompson said. “Habits created at a young age will help protect them for the rest of their lives.”
For referral to a child passenger safety technician or to find Iowa Fit Stations and safety checkups in your area visit www.blankchildrens.org/child-passenger-safety .