SPRINGFIELD – Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 6 and 8 to 14. In 2007, 6,532 passenger vehicle occupants ages 14 and younger were involved in fatal crashes. That is why the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety is urging all parents and caregivers to attend the “National Seat Check Saturday” child safety seat checkpoint on Saturday, September 12th. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 12-18, 2009) IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety will have certified technicians available to provide on-site child safety seat inspection and education at locations across the state. The Springfield event will be held from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at IDOT’s Hanley Building located at 2300 S. Dirksen Parkway. All events will be sponsored by AAA, the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety (IDOT/DTS) and Evenflo. Go to www.buckleupillinois.org for a complete listing of locations.
“Since Illinois toughened its child passenger safety seat law in 2003, IDOT has worked hard to protect young passengers here in Illinois,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig. “The bottom line is safety seats don’t work unless they are properly installed and the child is correctly buckled up. We are grateful to AAA for their continued support of this important event through the purchase of replacement child safety seats for use at events statewide.”
“Illinois has made great strides in keeping its children safe on the roadways,” said Brad Roeber, regional president of AAA Chicago. “But, as survey data tells us, there are still some parents who need assistance to ensure Illinois children are safely buckled up. We encourage these and all parents to take advantage of Seat Check Saturday as AAA wants the roads to be safe for even its youngest travelers.”
“Studies show that as many as four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly,” said McKay Featherstone, vice president of marketing for Evenflo. “At Evenflo, safety is our top priority. We are delighted to partner with AAA and IDOT to raise awareness of car seat safety and help ensure the safety of Illinois children through proper car seat installation.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2007 among children under 5, an estimated 358 lives were saved by the use of child safety seats and booster seats. If all children under the age of 5 were restrained, an additional 71 children would have been saved.
For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should refer to the following 4 Steps for Kids guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on their age and size:
1. For the best possible protection keep 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 age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
2. When children outgrow their rear-facing child safety seats (at a minimum of 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).
3. In Illinois, by law, once children outgrow their forward-facing child safety seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they must ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the age of 8. All children should ride properly restrained in the back seat.
4. Children are not ready for a safety belt until they are 4’9” tall and over the age of 8. They can use the adult safety belts in the back seat, if they fit properly. Safety belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 and/or when they are 4’9” tall).
Remember: All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws requiring that children be restrained in motor vehicles. Child safety seats and booster seats save lives. They offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash. According to the National High Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over the period from 1975 through 2007, an estimated 8,709 lives were saved by child restraints (child safety seats or safety belts). National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 12-18, 2009) is an annual campaign to bring public attention to the importance of properly securing all children in appropriate child safety seats, booster seats, or safety belts – every trip, every time.
For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, or to find a check point near you, please visit www.buckleupillinois.org.