AAA Asks, Is Your Child Safe In the Car?

Woman grandma puts carseat in car

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (September 22, 2016) – In Virginia, over 1900 crashes involved children under the age of 9 resulting in 11 fatalities and 2,268 injuries, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles stated. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), an estimated 284 children were saved due to restraint use in 2012 alone. However, there is still a dangerous gap in booster seat education with parents. According to a study conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide, nearly 9 in 10 parents are moving their children from a booster seat to a seat belt before they reach their recommended height and weight.

AAA Tidewater and other traffic safety organizations such as NHTSA, recommends that children be approximately 80 to 100 pounds and no shorter than 57 inches before graduating them to a seat belt. In the state of Virginia, it is required that all children under the age of 8 be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat.

“Too often parents will graduate their children into a seat belt before they are ready. What they may not understand is that seat belts alone simply do not fit a child shorter than 57 inches.” Georjeane Blumling, spokesperson for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Placing a child too early in a seat belt increases the risk for abdominal injuries in a crash.”  

During National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 18-24), AAA Tidewater Virginia is reminding parents and caregivers to ensure their children are secured properly in the correct seats – every trip, every time. AAA Tidewater Virginia will be sponsoring a child passenger safety seat check event at TOYS ‘R’ US/BABIES ‘R’ US at Virginia Beach 2701 N. Mall Drive Suite 101, Virginia Beach, VA 23452, September 24, 2016 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. Parents can have their safety seat checked for proper fit by nationally certified child passenger safety technicians and instructors.  

 According to NHTSA, nearly three out of four child safety seats are not used properly, which is a grave risk when traveling. “Securing your children properly in age and size appropriate child safety seats – in the back seat of your vehicle – is the most effective thing you can do to protect them in the event of a crash.” Blumling added.

AAA now advises parents of children to secure them in rear-facing child safety seats for as long as possible, maxing out the upper weight or height limits of the car seat. Researchers indicate that toddlers are 75 percent less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash when they ride in a rear-facing car seat up to their second birthday.

AAA recommends the following child passenger safety best practices:

  • Always read the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and vehicle owner’s manual.
  • Keep children rear-facing as long as possible until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat.
  • Once children outgrow the upper weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seats, they can ride in a forward-facing child safety seat.
  • Children should use a forward-facing child safety seat until they reach the maximum weight or height for the harness.
  • Children should ride in a booster seat until age 8 or older unless they are 4’9” tall.

  • Move children to adult lap/shoulder belts when they are at least 4' 9" tall (which usually happens between ages 8 and 12) and vehicle safety belts fit properly.

  • For all children under age 13, the back seat is the safest place.

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia