UW News

February 5, 2004

Child Passenger Safety Week: A good time to start riding safely

Is your child fully protected by an adult seat belt? Think again!

That’s the message from the Washington Booster Seat Coalition during Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 8-14. Motor vehicle crashes are the single largest killer of children 4-8 years old, and 55 percent of all child passenger injuries are in this group, even though these children represent only 43 percent of all child passengers.

These children are vulnerable because they do not fit well in adult seat belts. Booster seats reduce a child’s risk of injury by 59 percent compared to using only a seat belt. Booster seats have been proven to be effective in protecting children up through 7-years-old from serious injury, and they protect a child against head injury four times better than seat belts alone.

“Parents love their children, but our research shows that many parents still incorrectly believe that children are safe in a seatbelt and have outgrown the need for a booster seat,” says Dr. Beth Ebel, of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and a University of Washington assistant professor of pediatrics. “One of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious injury is to be sure their kids are safely restrained whenever they’re riding.”

Washington law requires children 4-6 years old be protected by a booster seat. Doctors and safety experts recommend that children ride in booster seats until the lap and shoulder belt fit right, usually when they are at least 4’9″ tall, or around 8 years old or 80 pounds.

To find out about car seat checkups throughout Washington during Child Passenger Safety Week, call 1-800-BUCKL-UP. For more information on booster seats, including access to coupons for booster seat discounts, click on www.boosterseat.org or call 1-800-BUCKL-UP.

The Washington State Booster Seat Coalition is a partnership among the HIPRC, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and the Safety Restraint Coalition.