National Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 12-19

September 09, 2009

The pediatricians, doctors and nurses at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center want to make sure children are as safe as possible when traveling in vehicles. Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 12-19, is a good time for parents to review their child's safety in the family vehicle. Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital wants every family to remember that we must work together as a team to effectively promote adult safety belt use, as well as child passenger safety. With that in mind, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will recognize the ongoing effort of medical professionals, enforcement agencies, child safety seat fitting stations, car seat loan programs and community organizations that work to save lives by advocating child passenger safety. Together these members of "Pennsylvania's Life-Saving Team" work to educate and protect the state's most precious cargo - child passengers.

The theme of Child Passenger Safety Week 2009, “Pennsylvania Life-Saving Team” reminds parents and caregivers that there are resources available to help them learn how to safely transport children. There are approximately 1,000 nationally certified child passenger safety technicians in Pennsylvania who work to teach parents and caregivers how to properly use their child’s car seat. In addition, there are over 150 child safety seat fitting stations across the state that offer opportunities to have car seats evaluated to make sure the car seat is a correct selection for the child’s size and securely installed in the vehicle. And throughout the year, police departments are working hard to enforce occupant protection laws with both children and adults. All of these life-savers are working hard every day to keep Pennsylvania families buckled up and safe.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 14, due in large part to the nonuse or improper use of child seats and seat belts. Working with parents and Pennsylvania’s Life-Saving Team, it is the goal to ensure every child is properly secured and safe every trip, every time.

Fortunately, the collective efforts of Pennsylvania’s Life-Saving Team are making a difference. According the NHTSA, research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (younger than 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars. Research also shows that an estimated 8,709 lives have been saved by child restraints from 1975 to 2007.

During Child Passenger Safety Week this year, it is important to remember that as children progress through different stages of growth and development, their child restraint needs changed. Parents must be mindful of the 4 Steps for Kids as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These steps will help making buckling up a life-saving habit.

The 4 Steps for Kids include:

  • Infants ride rear-facing in infant car seats/rear-facing convertible care seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are at least 1 year old. For optimal protection, use a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the maximum weight and/or height allowed by the manufacturer.
  • Forward-facing toddler car seats from age 1 and at least 20 pounds to around age four and at least 40 pounds.
  • Booster seats from about 4 years old and at least 40 pounds to age 8, unless 4’9” tall.
  • Lap and shoulder safety belts at age 8 and older and 4’9” tall. Children under 13 should ride in the back seat of the vehicle

Under Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law, all drivers are responsible for securing children in the appropriate child resistant system. All children from birth up to age 4 must be secured in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle. All children age 4 to age 8 must be secured in a seat belt system and appropriate child booster seat anywhere in the vehicle. All children age 8 up to age 18 must be secured in a seat belt system anywhere in the vehicle. Under Pennsylvania’s seat belt law, all drivers are responsible for the front seat occupants wearing a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system. All drivers under 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle in which the number of passengers exceeds the number of available safety seat belts in the vehicle.

Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital hopes you will pay special attention to this life-saving information. Use it and share it with your friends. For more information about child passenger safety call 1-800-CAR-BELT or visit

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Last Updated September 10, 2009