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In 2017, a total of 675 children 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and nearly 116,000 were injured. Of the children 12 years and younger who died (for which restraint use was known), 35 percent were not buckled up.

The leading cause of death for children aged 3 to 14 is motor vehicle crashes. Many of these injuries and deaths can be prevented by placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that restraining children in rear seats instead of front seats reduce fatal injury risk by about three-quarters for children up to age 3, and almost half for children ages 4 to 8.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is encouraging parents to help keep children safe on American roads by making sure all car seats are installed correctly. Their Child Passenger Safety Week went from September 15-21, 2019, and involved offering free car seat inspections across the country.

NHTSA Advises Parents and Caregivers to Check Car Seats

The NHTSA and the Ad Council launched a new series of public service ads (PSAs) urging parents and caregivers to check that their car seats are correct for children’s age, height, and weight. The PSAs directed viewers to the NHTSA’s “The Right Seat” website, which includes more information about how to determine which seat is best for which child.

Well-intentioned parents and caregivers may still install car seats incorrectly, or use the wrong-sized product. The NHTSA advises drivers to visit a certified child passenger safety technician in their communities to double-check their seats. To find such a technician, drivers may check the NHTSA’s online search tool.

The NHTSA also urges parents and caregivers to register their seats with their manufacturers to stay aware of any product recalls. Most car seats come with a postage-paid registration card consumers can put in the mail, but they can also register each seat online.

How to Find the Right Car Seat for Your Child

The NHTSA advises parents to remain vigilant about car safety even as children grow, and to keep children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top weight or height limit allowed by any particular seat. Once a child outgrows a rear-facing seat, he or she is ready for a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.

The National Safety Council has additional car safety tips:

  • Keep children in the back seat at least through the age of 12.
  • Be a good example—always be consistent and wear your seat belt.
  • The life of a car seat ranges from 6-10 years—be sure to check expiration dates on your seats.

The NHTSA also has a convenient “Car Seat Finder” to help you find just the right seat for your child. All you have to do is fill out your child’s age, height, and weight, and you’ll be provided with the seat types that will fit your child.

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