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FOR RELEASE: February 6, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Motor Vehicle Accidents Number One Killer of Children Ages 4 to 14 Child Passenger Safety Week is February 11-17

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 7,500 lives have been saved by the proper use of vehicle child restraints during the past 20 years. Yet, vehicle crashes still remain the number one killer of children ages 4 to 14 in America. The reason? Too often it is the improper use, or non-use, of child safety seats and booster seats.

That’s why the Oklahoma State Department of Health is joining with NHTSA and other state and local leaders this year to commemorate Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 11-17.

While 98 percent of America’s infants and 93 percent of children ages 1 to 3 are regularly restrained, not enough children ages 4 to 7 are restrained properly for their size and age. Only 10 to 20 percent of children ages 4 to 7 who should be using booster seats to protect them are actually in them. But if children ages 4 to 8 are placed in booster seats, they are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than children who are restrained only by a seat belt.

“As children grow, the method they need to be secured in a car, truck, van, or SUV changes,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher. For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers simply need to remember and follow the Four Steps for Kids:

  1. For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat.  At a minimum, keep infants rear facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
  2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat, usually around age 4 and 40 pounds.
  3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly.  Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt fits across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, usually at age 8 or when the child is 4’9” tall.
  4. When children outgrow their booster seats, they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly.

Expectant mothers should always wear seat belts to protect themselves and their unborn child.

“During Child Passenger Safety Week, which coincides with Valentine’s Day, we remind all parents, grandparents and child care providers that if their children are under 4’9”, they need to be in a booster seat,” said Crutcher. “What better way to show your love on Valentine’s Day than to make sure your children are secured properly in your vehicle. Make it the law in your car! It could save your child’s life.”


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