Four out of five car seats are used incorrectly. Could yours be one of them? The Utah Safety Council and the Buckle Up For Love program are celebrating National Child Passenger Safety Week September 19-25 this year by making sure all parents and caregivers are buckling themselves and their children safely and properly. The Utah Safety Council offers a few basic rules of Child Passenger Safety, along with information about Utah laws.
REAR-FACING SEATS: For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible. It is widely believed that you may turn children forward-facing at age one, but the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends to keep children rear facing up to two years of age – or as long as allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Your child seat owner’s manual and the labels on the seat itself will indicate the maximum height and weight limits of the seat to use it rear-facing.
FORWARD-FACING SEATS: When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (must weigh a minimum of 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the maximum weight or height limit of the particular seat - usually around age 4 and 40 pounds.
BOOSTER SEATS: Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats with a harness, they need to be in booster seats, in the back seat, until they are 57 inches tall. Until a child is 57 inches tall, they are not adequately protected by a seat belt alone. According to Utah law, every child up to age eight must be in a child safety seat or booster seat. The booster seat positions them for the lap and shoulder belt to work correctly. Never use a booster seat with a lap belt only, boosters must always be used with a lap and shoulder belt.
SEAT BELTS: When children outgrow their booster seats, they can use the adult seat belt. A child is the correct size to ride without a booster when their back can stay flat against the back of the seat with their knees resting at a 90 degree angle over the edge of the seat. A proper fit means that the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest. It is recommended that children 12 and under ride in the back seat.
Since its beginning in 1995, the Buckle Up For Love program has been encouraging families to buckle up. Drivers can contact the Utah Safety Council by calling 1-800-887-KIDS when they observe moving vehicles with unrestrained children on board. The Utah Safety Council sends the owner of the motor vehicle information and resource materials in order to help individuals ensure that everyone is restrained properly every time they ride in the car.
Anyone can help encourage others to buckle up their children and save lives by participating in the Buckle Up For Love program. If you see a child that is not properly secured in a moving motor vehicle, report the Utah license plate number along with other details to 1-800-887-KIDS. The Utah Safety Council will remind the vehicle owner to Buckle Up for Love; they will receive an educational packet about child passenger safety in the mail. For more information on child safety seats, a free car seat inspection, or the Buckle Up for Love program, please call (801) 478-7878 ext. 303 or (800) 933-5943 ext. 303. To order Buckle Up For Love materials such as brochures, posters or wallet cards visit the Utah Safety Council’s web site at www.utahsafetycouncil.org or you may also use the same phone number listed above.