During Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 18-24), the Division of Injury and Substance Abuse Prevention (DISAP) at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reminds caregivers how important it is to correctly use child safety seats to protect their children when traveling in vehicles.
Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children. Nationally, in 2019, at least two children under the age of 13 were killed on a daily basis and more than 370 injured on a daily basis while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, or vans, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA also reported that nationally:
• There were 608 child passenger vehicle occupant deaths due to traffic crashes in 2019.
• Of the children who died in 2019, at least 38 percent were unrestrained, which, unfortunately, is an increase in comparison to the 33 percent who were unrestrained and died in 2018.
“South Carolina state law requires an infant under two years old to be secured in a rear-facing car seat in a rear seat of a vehicle until the child exceeds the height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. It’s important that caregivers across our state are aware of these state law requirements as they help protect the safety of our children,” said Amanda Renwald, DHEC Child Passenger Safety Instructor and Health Educator. “In South Carolina, we have estimated that about 60 percent of car seats are installed with some common mistakes, to include not using the top tether or not tightening the seat or harness. Safe Kids Worldwide reports that three out of four child safety seats are used incorrectly.”
If a child safety seat is used correctly, it can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 71 percent among infants and 54 percent among toddlers. Booster seats reduce the risk of nonfatal injuries by 45 percent among four-to eight-year-old children when compared to a seat belt alone.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, car seat check events will take place around the state where parents and caregivers can have a Child Passenger Safety Technician ensure their car seat is properly installed and used. Additionally, throughout the year, there are 145 car-seat inspection stations in the state. Visit scdhec.gov/carseats to find an inspection location near you. Some inspection sites require an appointment.
“No matter how large the vehicle, or how short the distance, every child should be properly buckled in the back seat on every trip,” Renwald said. “Let’s all help reduce crash fatalities and injuries by buckling our children up correctly every ride.”
To learn more about DHEC’s child passenger safety information and resources, including how to become a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, visit scdhec.gov/carseats. Additional information is available at safekids.org/car-seat and nhtsa.gov/equipment.