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EDITORIAL: Safety seats play key role in saving kids

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T&D Editorial logo, LIBRARY

Not to be forgotten in the push to get adults to be safe drivers is the requirement that children receive special attention in the travel process.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is participating in Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 18-24, which aims to educate parents and caregivers on how to properly ensure their children are buckled up correctly whenever they are riding in a vehicle.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 46% of all child safety seats are installed incorrectly.

The national campaign emphasizes the importance of choosing the right car seat and proper installation to ensure the safety of children while they are inside moving vehicles on the roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 46% of all child safety seats are used incorrectly.

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South Carolina long has had a primary law requiring that kids be belted in child safety seats or appropriate booster seats. Correct usage of the seats is essential. Belting a child who is too small into an adult safety belt is removing the safety cushion that personal restraint provides.

"We really want to drive home the importance of ensuring your child's car seat is installed and used properly," South Carolina Highway Patrol Colonel Christopher Williamson said. "Too often our troopers see children in vehicles unbuckled or in a car seat that is not suitable for their size and age. Even if you think your child's car seat is installed correctly, we encourage you to come out and have it checked by a certified child passenger safety technician."

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For maximum child passenger safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends:

  • Keeping infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
  •  When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. And research indicates 80% of car crashes involving children occur within 20 minutes of home, many during short drives to school or the grocery store in which parents fail to use child safety seats. More than half of crashes involving children are at speeds under 45 mph, and nearly half occur on local roads or in parking lots.

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Remember, the safest place for all children is in the back seat of the vehicle. Protect them per the law -- and love.

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