SPRINGFIELD—AAA New Jersey reminds parents, grandparents and caregivers to keep children seated, safe and secure when riding in motor vehicles.
“Studies show that more than 80 percent of children are improperly secured in motor vehicles,” says Michele Mount, director of public affairs for the Florham Park-based Club, certified child passenger safety instructor and chair of the National Child Safety Passenger Board (NCSPB). “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under 14. Ensuring that a child is properly secured in a car is the best protection a parent can offer.”
To educate parents about how to keep their little ones seated, safe and secure in a motor vehicle, the Club is sponsoring free child safety seat checks at the AAA Car Care Center in Springfield, located at 135 Route 22 East (at Fadem Road) on Friday, May 1 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Nationally certified child passenger safety technicians, who have successfully completed an extensive national training program, will conduct the child safety seat checks. The technicians will examine the child seat to ensure that it has been installed correctly, that it is appropriate for the child’s height and weight, and confirm that the manufacturer has not recalled it.
AAA urges proper restraints for all vehicle occupants and recommends adhering to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) four simple steps for keeping children seated, safe and secure.
Step 1 – Rear-Facing Child Safety Seats
For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats for as long as possible. At a minimum, keep babies rear facing until they reach one year of age and 20 pounds, or until they reach the height/weight allowances for a particular seat.
Step 2 – Forward-Facing Child Safety Seats
When children outgrow their rear-facing child seats, they should ride in forward-facing child seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight/height limits of the particular seat (usually around four years of age and 40 pounds).
Step 3 – Booster Seats
After children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lies across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, usually around eight years of age or when a child is 4-feet, 9-inches tall.
Step 4 – Seat Belts
The fourth and final step in keeping children seated, safe and secure is the vehicle seat belt alone. Children are ready to graduate from booster seats to the vehicle seat belt when they reach eight years of age or when they are 4-feet, 9-inches tall.
“Children should remain in the backseat until age 13 and be safely restrained every trip, every time,” reminds Mount. “Nearly 40 percent of crashes involving children occur on local roads and nearly 60 percent occur on trips less than 10 minutes from home.”