SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), State Police, AAA, Evenflo and St. John’s Hospital today announced Seat Check Saturday and called on all parents and caregivers to ensure children are properly restrained in correctly installed child safety seats when traveling on Illinois roadways. On Saturday, September 24, over 80 free child safety seat checks will take place in Illinois providing parents with hands-on training from 682 certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians. The press conference and seat checks are part of Illinois’ strategic efforts to raise awareness and boost safety during the National Child Passenger Safety Week campaign.
“Protecting our loved ones through the proper installation of child safety seats and parental compliance is a major priority at IDOT, and is part of our comprehensive traffic safety mission- to save even more lives on Illinois roadways,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “Illinois’ certified child passenger safety technicians equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge they need to safely secure their child. We strongly encourage all interested residents to take advantage and participate in Seat Check Saturday.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children under 12, because three out of four child safety seats are used incorrectly. A major safety issue being addressed this year is the importance of keeping children in their safety seats up to the maximum upper weight/height limits of the seat. The new safety recommendation is that infants and toddlers remain rear-facing until age 2.
According to NHTSA, in passenger cars, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than 1 in motor vehicle crashes and by 54 percent for children 1 to 4. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks. Many tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size.
"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 its youngest travelers."
“It has been well documented that car seats, when properly used and installed correctly, can save lives and prevent injuries,” said Susan O’Connor, Patient and Community Educator for The Birth Center at St. John’s Hospital. “The newest American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations reinforce the need to use the appropriate car seat for children (based on their weight, height and age) for as long as possible before graduating on to the next type of seat. Parents who follow these guidelines can provide their children with the best possible protection during a crash.”
For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit their local inspection station to ensure their child’s safety seat is used properly: Updated recommendations, provided below, emphasize how important it is to keep children in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them to the next type.
1. Rear-facing seats: In the back seat from birth to the height and weight limit of the seat. Recommended up to 2 years old, but at a minimum age 1 and 20 pounds.
2. Forward-facing seats: In the back seat when the child has reached the height or weight limit of the rear-facing seat to about age 4 and 40-65 pounds.
3. Booster seats: In the back seat from about age 4 to at least age 8.
4. Safety belts: At age 8 and older and taller than 4’9’’.
Note: All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
As of January 1, 2012, safety belts will be required in all seating positions in all cars, light trucks and vans. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to ride in the bed of a pick-up truck.
The annual National Child Passenger Safety Week campaign, which runs this year from September 18-24, focuses on increasing awareness of these issues and provides parents and caregivers with resources and information to better protect children from motor vehicle crashes. The activities will wrap-up on Saturday, September 24 with the signature event--Seat Check Saturday.
Hundreds of seat check events will be taking place at locations across the country. At each of these events, child passenger safety technicians will provide free hands-on child safety seat inspections and offer advice and instruction to parents and caregivers. All Illinois events are sponsored by AAA, Evenflo and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety (IDOT/DTS).
For more information on seat guidelines, Child Passenger Safety Week or to find a seat check location near you, please visit www.buckleupillinois.org.