Proper car seat use and installation can make a life-saving difference, and officials want to make sure children are properly secured in seats.
Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children across the U.S., with an average of two kids under 13 were killed every day in collisions in 2021, according to national data. Of the total fatalities that occurred, 36% were unrestrained. In Indiana, 24 children lost their lives in passenger vehicle crashes that year, according to an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute news release.
Many times, injuries, and deaths can be prevented with the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. When used and installed correctly, a car seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers, the news release says.
However, statistics show that nearly half of car seats are misused. Common issues are children being in the wrong type of car seat for their age and size, and car seats being installed improperly — both of which leave children vulnerable to injury in a crash.
To address this, the ICJI is encouraging parents and caregivers to take time during Child Passenger Safety Week — which is this week — to make sure that their child is properly secure in an appropriate car or booster seat.
With the amount of car seat choices on the market today, finding the right one can be challenging. Not all car seats fit in all vehicles, and officials say there are important factors to take into consideration, such as making sure the seat is age- and size-appropriate.
There are more than 1,200 certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians across Indiana who help educate parents and caregivers about the right seats for their kids and help them learn how to install the seats correctly. These individuals are specially trained in car seat installation, best practices and education and offer support and guidance to motorists with children free of charge, according to the news release.
They can also register car seats and check for recalls, the news release says.
Safety checks are available year-round on an appointment-only basis and typically take 20-30 minutes. Those visits can be conducted virtually or at one of Indiana’s fitting stations, which can be found by visiting on.in.gov/SafeKids.
Local stations include Firefly Children & Family Alliance in New Whiteland, the Franklin Police Department and the White River Township Fire Department’s three stations.
People can also check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see more free online resources at www.nhtsa.gov/TheRightSeat.