You know how often I have written about carseat safety and the latest guidelines for car seat usage......well, it is National Child Passenger Safety Week and a new study confirms what I have seen in my own practice, a lot of parents are not always taking the time to buckle up their children in car seats and booster seats.
An online survey funded in part by the General Motors Foundation, polled over 1,000 parents and caregivers of children under the age of 10. They were asked about the use of car seats and booster seats for their children. One in four parents admitted to having driven their child without using a car seat or booster seat. Many of the parents were described as being “affluent, highly educated and young”. Men were also more likely to break the “buckle up rule” than women.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to children. Statistics from previous years show that about 1/3 of children killed in car accidents were not using a car seat, booster seat, or a seat belt. There is NO reason for this, and children need to be buckled up, “every time on every ride”.
I have heard many excuses from parents about the “hassle” of using a rear facing car seat until the age of 2 years. Some of the comments have been, “it is just too hot in Texas to rear face the car seat”, “ I think she is bored facing backwards and prefers to forward face”, “the DVD player is not visible when they are rear facing”. All true comments, and I just am amazed by my own patients who are well educated, caring and concerned parents.
The same comments have been made about booster seats, “I think he feels awkward going to school in a booster seat”, “we were not going very far so we just use the seat belt, rather than the booster, when close to home”, “no one else at our school uses a booster”. Peer pressure at this age?
Other comments about seat belt safety I have heard? Parent’s tell me that, “the booster seat won’t fit in the Porsche, so they buckle up their 7 year old in the front seat, when driving with Dad”. “She throws a fit about riding in the backseat and fights with her sister so we let the 9 year old ride in front”. The list goes on and on. I personally wish that we could not have had children in the front seat when my boys were young as they always “called shotgun” and fought to get to the front seat, which led to several fingers caught in the car door, and many tears. Would have embraced the no front seat until 13 year law!
Lastly, parents need to follow the rules as well. Our kids are watching what we do and they will become drivers one day. The biggest admonition to teens is “Always buckle up” and “Don’t text or talk on cell phone when driving”. Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use of all age groups, so they need to see their parents following rules.
September 21 is National Seat Check Saturday, and Safe Kids will be hosting more than 500 child seat inspections across the country. If you have questions about your car seat or booster seat look at www.safekids.org to find a location near you. Buckle up, do it correctly, and don’t CHEAT!