September 2018

It’s Scary How Many People Buckle Up Wrong:

Child Passenger Safety Week is in September

By Michelle Spence

As a parent, you buckle your kids up for a trip in the car so often that it is easy to run through the process on autopilot, but motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children and most car crashes happen on short trips, close to home. One of the most important things a parent can do to keep their children safe is to ensure they are safely buckled up in the correct and properly installed car seat for their age and size, every single time they get in the car.

Using the right seat, correctly, can mean the difference between life, serious injury, or death for your children. 

In 2015, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and nearly 132,000 were injured. 

In 2016, fatalities among children 12 and under riding in passenger vehicles were up by 8 percent, making it more important now than ever to make sure your children are safe and are in the right seats, and that they are being used correctly every single time.

However, choosing and installing a car seat correctly, can be confusing and overwhelming for many parents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46 percent of car seats are misused. When used correctly, car seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in cars, and by 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively, for infants and toddlers in light trucks. Additionally, using the tether on a forward-facing car seat reduces the chances of injury in a crash. Installing car seats improperly can be just as dangerous as not placing children in car seats at all. Don’t be part of the 46 percent and ensure that you know exactly how to keep your children safe at every stage of their life.

Even as your children grow older and graduate from one type of car seat to another, it is important to stay vigilant about ensuring that your children are properly buckled in the right seats for their ages and sizes. The latest data from NHTSA shows that when it comes to restraint use, more than one- third (35%) of the children who died in passenger vehicles in 2016 were not buckled up at all, with most of them being children between 8 and 12. In 2016, among children under 5, car seats saved an estimated 328 lives. A total of 370 children could have survived if they had been buckled up correctly 100 percent of the time.

Fortunately, no parent must figure this all out alone. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Dominican Hospital is hosting a child passenger safety event, Saturday September 29, 9am to noon. Parents and caregivers will learn about proper car seat installation, and how to use car seats correctly. Technicians can also discuss car seat selection with parents, if parents have questions about transitioning their child to another type of seat.

On this day, parents and caregivers can have their children’s car seats inspected by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians who can teach them how to install their car seats properly. Technicians can help parents and caregivers learn the correct installation method for their child’s car seat and help determine if their children are ready to move from rear-facing to forward-facing seats, from forward-facing seats to booster seats, or from booster seats to seat belts. The technicians can also show parents how to register their car seat with its manufacturer so that they’ll be notified in the case of recalls. For an appointment call 831-462-7266.

If you can’t make it to this even, you can still have your car seat checked at a Car Seat Inspection Station year- round for free at any of the following locations:

• Boulder Creek Fire Protection District – (831) 338-7222
• California Highway Patrol – (831) 662-0511
• Santa Cruz City Fire Department – (831) 420-5280, call 8 am–12 pm
• Scotts Valley Fire Protection District – (831) 438-0211, call 8am–12 pm
• Watsonville Fire Department – (831) 768-3200 (se habla español)

Parents and caregivers can also visit to learn other tips on car seat safety, watch how-to videos, and sign up for car seat recall notifications. More information is available at

One Comment

  • Lynn Lauridsen

    The picture included with the article is an example of the mistakes parents make with car seats. The child, obviously under 2 years old, is in forward-facing car seat. The law in California is rear-facing until 2. Also the harness straps pictured are so loose that this child would fly out of the seat in a crash.

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