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Car accidents are now the number one cause of child deaths

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents are the leading cause of death for children, ranging from ages 1 to 13 years old. Data compiled by the NHTSA from the year 2015 found that 35% of child passengers who were under 13 and who were not buckled up properly in seat belts, booster seats or child safety seats were killed in car accidents that year. In 59% of those cases, booster or safety seats were in use but were either incorrectly installed or not properly buckled.  These statistics don’t even extend to the inclusion of the thousands of instances in which fatality is avoided, but serious injuries to children who are improperly restrained occurred. 

If these statistics seem alarming to you, you definitely aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are many steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of serious injury or death for their own children.

Creating a safer car environment for your children

In recent years, there has been a nationwide push to raise awareness of the safest and proper ways to install child safety seats in vehicles, as well as booster seat laws that both define and require the appropriate use of these seats based on the height, age and weight of the children who will be using them. 

Colorado’s child passenger safety law requires each of the following:

●      Children Under 1 Year Old

            Less than 20 lbs. - Rear facing safety seat installed only in the back seat

            20 to 40 lbs. - Rear facing safety seat

●      Children Age 1 to 3 Years Old

            Less than 20 lbs. - Rear-facing safety seat

            20 to 40 lbs. - Rear or forward facing safety seat

            Over 40 lbs. and weight limit for seat - Forward facing safety or booster seat

●      Children Age 4 to 7 Years Old

            20 to 40 lbs. - Forward-facing safety or booster seat

            Over 40 lbs. and weight limit for seat - Forward facing safety or booster seat

●      Children Age 8 to 15 Years Old

            Over 40 lbs. and weight limit for seat - Booster or seat belt

It has also been strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under 13 only ride in the backseat of any vehicle. This, and the rear facing regulations covering safety seats for infants or very young children, are in place to help avoid the injuries that children can sustain when airbags deploy in the event of a collision.

Failure to use proper child restraints is against the law

It is the legal responsibility of any parent or guardian behind the wheel to make sure that the children in their care are restrained properly and in accordance with the law. For parents or other caregivers, there are several locations in Colorado that can provide a thorough safety inspection of the seats you are using or intend to use, including demonstrations on the right way for your seat to be installed in your vehicle. There are also many resources available throughout the state that can provide parents who aren’t sure what kind of seat they should purchase with recommendations tailored to their circumstances, as well as programs that can provide safety seats at a reduced cost for low-income families. With so many available options, no child should be riding in a car without these life-saving protections in place.

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