According to a new survey by AAA, outreach efforts to educate parents of children under age 13 regarding child safety seat use have yielded positive results. Nearly a year ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendations regarding the use of rearward-facing seats for children over the age of one, recommending that children remain in rearward-facing car seats until age two—or until the child exceeds the height and weight limits of the child seat. Read our earlier blog post, "New Child Seat Recommendations from the AAP and NHTSA" to learn more.
AAA found that over 90% of the parents with children under age 13 heard of the new guidelines by AAP. Several parents heard of these guidelines from their child’s pediatrician. AAA also found that one in three of the parents surveyed changed how they allowed their child to travel in the vehicles.
Seventy-seven percent of parents with children younger than age two who did not make any changes based on the AAP’s recommendations reported that they were already meeting or exceeding these guidelines. However, there were other parents who were allowing their children to graduate to bigger seats or seatbelt use prematurely for reasons such as discomfort.
AAA’s article, "AAA Survey Reveals 'Boost' in Car Seat Compliance," reinforces the need for parents to follow the guidelines set forth by the AAP in order to help reduce serious injuries and death among children in automobile crashes. The article can be found in AAA's "Newsroom."
Entries in Child Passenger Safety (7)
Principal Technical Analyst
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced last week that they will be using a newly developed "10 year old child" crash test dummy. According to NHTSA, this new crash test dummy was created so that boosters and child safety seats designed for children over 65 pounds could be tested in the most effective manner possible. Read the full press release dated 02/21/12.
The new dummy will allow NHTSA to assess the risk of injuries using head and knee excursions and chest acceleration. The expanded testing capabilities will also allow for the evaluation and certification of higher weight booster seats (designed for children weighing 65-80 pounds), in compliance with recent rule changes issued by NHTSA.
Currently NHTSA recommends that children be seated in a car seat with a harness (up to the specifications of the seat) until they are large enough to fit properly in a seat belt, which they say is generally when the child is between 8-12 years and about 4'9" tall. Read more about properly fitting seat belts for children ages 8-12 years.
Technical Communications Manager
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded grants totaling $914,700 to help increase roadway safety through educational and awareness campaigns focused on the importance of using safety belts and properly restraining children riding in motor vehicles, as well as on the dangers of drunk driving. Read the press release issued by the State of Alabama on 30 August 2011.
The following briefly describes how the grant funds will be put to use:
- A $200,000 grant to the Alabama Department of Public Health is funding the production of educational materials on seat belts and child restraint usage; funds are also being used for observational surveys that will measure compliance with safety restraint laws.
- A $214,700 grant to the North Alabama Highway Safety office, located at Northwest Shoals Community College, will fund the training of child passenger safety technicians in the state's nine Community Traffic Safety Program regions. Technicians are trained to teach parents and caregivers how to protect children in vehicles through the proper use of child restraint systems and safety belts.
- A $500,000 grant to the Alabama Development Office is funding a multimedia campaign against drunk driving. This campaign is occurring at the same time as the national Over the Limit, Under Arrest law enforcement campaign, which runs through Labor Day weekend.
The funding was made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the state Traffic Safety Trust Fund and is being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
Results from new research by the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) highlights potential safety hazards when it comes to children staying properly restrained in child seats. The study was led by Lilia B. Reyes, MD, clinical fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. PAS surveyed 378 parents with children ages six years and younger. Parents were asked when their children began to self-unbuckle themselves while in vehicle restraint systems.
The results from the study are as follows:
- 51% of the parents reported that their children unbuckled their child safety seats while in vehicles;
- 43% of the children that unbuckled themselves did so while the vehicles were in motion;
- 75% of the children unbuckling their child seats were three years of age or younger, with the youngest reported age being 12 months;
- More boys than girls unbuckled themselves (59% were boys; 42% were girls).
The study performed by PAS was a pilot study and does not address the issue of whether the child restraints were installed properly. Read more about the study, "Little fingers, big trouble," which was released on May 1, 2011.
Kevin Jones is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. He volunteers for Children's Hospital in Birmingham, where he installs child safety seats for the public. Email Kevin Jones.
Technical Analyst, MSC
Ready to get your toddler out of that rearward facing child seat and into a forward facing seat? Not so fast. With crashes being the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14 years, "early graduation" from infant, rearward facing, forward facing, and booster seats continues to be an issue for child safety advocates and organizations.
Previous recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) were that children should remain in a rearward facing car seat until they are at least one year and weigh at least 20 lbs. However, in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the AAP recommends that children remain in rearward facing car seats until age two--or until the child exceeds the height and weight limits of the child seat. Read the AAP's press release (03/21/11).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also made revisions to its recommendations based on the latest statistics on child injury in crashes. NHTSA is advising that children stay in rearward facing seats and booster seats as long as possible. NHTSA also recommends that the height and weight limits of the child seat be used as a guideline for transitioning to the next stage child seat. Learn more at NHTSA's website.
The instruction manuals that accompany newly-purchased child safety seats provide specifications on height and weight limits. These instruction manuals also provide instructions on how to properly install the child restraints. If you need additional assistance with child safety seat installation, locate a child safety seat inspection station near you.