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Notice to Readers: National Child Passenger Safety Week --- September 21--27, 2008

In 2006, in the United States, 462 children aged <4 years died and approximately 45,000 were treated in emergency departments because of injuries sustained in motor-vehicle crashes (1,2). This year, National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 21--27, 2008, will focus on the importance of the correct installation and use of child safety seats.

The use of child safety seats has been found to reduce the risk for death in a crash by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers (i.e., children aged 1--4 years) (3). Child safety seat use is mandatory in every state in the United States and in the District of Columbia, although the age at which children can transition to adult safety belts varies by state.

In the first national probability sample of correct child safety seat use, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2006 that 28% of infants aged <1 year were not placed in rear-facing seats, and 44% of children who weighed 20--40 pounds were not in forward-facing child seats, as recommended by NHTSA (4). An estimated 73% of child safety seats are incorrectly installed or misused (5). The most common errors are loose harness straps and loose or improper attachment of the child safety seat to the vehicle using the seat-belt or LATCH (i.e., lower anchors and tethers for children) system (5,6). Incorrect installation or use reduces child safety seat effectiveness.

Information about National Child Passenger Safety Week activities and child passenger safety is available from NHTSA at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov and from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/childpas.htm.

References

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) encyclopedia. Available at http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov.
  2. CDC. WISQARS nonfatal injury reports. Available at https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic safety facts: 2006 data. Children. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 2007. Available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/810803.pdf.
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic safety facts: research note. Child restraint use in 2006---use of correct restraint types. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 2007. Available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/810798.pdf.
  5. Decina LE, Lococo KH. Child restraint system use and misuse in six states. Accid Anal Prev 2005;37:583--90.
  6. US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Child passenger safety. Available at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.9f8c7d6359e0e9bbbf30811060008a0c.



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