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Parenting is tough!  With so much information being thrown at us from books, grandparents, well-meaning friends, and countless online sources, it’s not surprising we sometimes feel overwhelmed.  I clearly remember my now 25-year-old son asking if he could drive 4 of his friends to the Jersey shore when he was 17.  We thought, we discussed…and we worried.  But in the end, we gave our permission with this rule:  5 seatbelts, 5 passengers.  At some point during his trip, it came to my attention that he was returning with 6 passengers – most definitely breaking our 5-passenger rule!  I won’t bore you with the details, but regardless of the loss of face in front of his friends, he was told in no uncertain terms that he would only be permitted to drive with 5 passengers in that car.  Some rules are too important to break.  Rules implemented to help ensure the safety of our children are definitely among them!

With that thought in mind, you’ll understand why I was surprised to read a study in February’s Pediatrics online stating that many parents are inconsistent in the use of child booster seats in vehicles while carpooling. Could it be parents are so busy that they forget important safety rules?  Most parents must be aware that – when used properly – child restraints prevent injury and save lives.  So I had to wonder…armed with this knowledge, why is there such inconsistency?  As I read further, the study explained that while most parents do know the laws governing child restraints for younger children, many were found to be unaware of their state laws for older children – many which warrant the use of child booster seats.

All 50 states have child restraint laws.  These laws vary among states based on the age, weight, and height of the child.  If you will be driving with a child in your vehicle – or trusting someone else to drive your child in their vehicle – it would be a good idea to review all of the information provided by the 2012 recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (Child Safety Seat Recommendations).  The information provided here by the AAP includes:

  • the appropriateness of safety seat options (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster) based on your child’s age, height, and weight
  • the appropriateness of safety seat options for your particular vehicle
  • available choices of manufacturers and styles of safety seats
  • detailed installation information for each style of safety seat
  • answers to many commonly-asked questions about car safety seats

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the appropriate safety seat for a child – after all, it is a very important decision!  Did you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death for children between the ages 3-14 in the United States?  In 2009 alone, motor vehicle crashes were responsible for 1314 deaths of children under the age of 14!  Herbert Hoover once said, “Children are our most valuable natural resource.”  We need to do all we can to protect them.  Maybe if we learn more about child vehicle safety – and then implement and/or share that knowledge – we can help reduce the number of deaths of children in motor vehicle accidents in 2012!

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