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Car Seat Safety: The Struggles are Real

Safety experts recommend that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years old. (Raylene Gutierrez/Flickr)
Safety experts recommend that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years old. (Raylene Gutierrez/Flickr)
September 16, 2016

CINCINNATI – Car accidents are among the top causes of death among kids in the U.S., claiming the lives of hundreds of children each year. But experts say the risk can be reduced with proper use of restraints.

Sunday marks the beginning of Child Passenger Safety Week. Injury prevention coordinator at Cincinnati Children's Donna Laake, RN is among those calling attention to the fact that at least three out of four car seats are improperly installed. But she understands the struggles of getting a child seat correctly fitted.

"I would have professors come, frustrated, saying, 'I have a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and I can't figure out how to get this car seat in,'" she said. "So it has nothing to do with your intelligence. It has to do with making sure that you read the instructions and if you need to, to get help from a certified technician."

Laake also suggested online instructional videos to assist in the process. Once a child grows out of a car seat or booster, she said seat belt use always should be reinforced. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows nationally every 33 seconds a child age 13 or younger is involved in an auto accident.

Laake feels many parents don't fully understand the impact of crash forces on a child who is unrestrained. For example, a 10-pound child riding in a car going 30 miles an hour would experience 300 pounds of pressure in an accident.

"We drive so much faster these days. We don't go 30 miles an hour," she added. "We're going 60 and 70 miles an hour on the expressway, and so all of those crash forces on a child unrestrained, they can be thrown from the vehicle, they can hit the windshield, they can hit other objects and other people."

Safety experts recommend infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years old. Under Ohio law, safety seats are required for children up to age four or forty pounds and boosters for kids younger than eight, unless they are at least four feet, nine inches tall. Families can find a car-seat inspection station online at safercar.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH