Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children, but experts say many of those deaths could be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts.

Child Passenger Safety Week is recognized nationally from September 15th through the 21st. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of car seats are misused. The NHTSA and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning are focusing on the proper use of car seats and booster seats to reduce fatalities and injuries among children. Spokesperson Kari Arend of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning says parents and caregivers need to know the best options and have the right resources when choosing a car seat or booster seat.

Arend tells WHMI a child should ride in a rear-facing car seat from birth to age 2, or when they reach the upper weight or height limit for the car seat. When a child outgrows their rear-facing car seat, the child should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5. A booster seat should then be used until a child is at least four-feet, nine inches tall and Arend says a child should be buckled up in the backseat until they are 13. Lastly, the Office of Highway Safety Planning also recommends that children eight years and older be placed in an age-appropriate seat, and children should be buckled up for every trip, every time.

Arend says another effort to encourage safety is the Tween – Back, Booster, Buckle program, which is a statewide program managed by CPS technicians. The new initiative, piloted by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, aims to educate children ages 5 to 12 about riding safely in a car, focusing on the benefits of booster seats and the importance of riding in the backseat until age 13.

A list of planned car seat checks, as well as additional safety tips including information on the Tween – Back, Booster, Buckle program, can be found at the link below. (DK)