With school starting again in Milpitas and nearby communities, many parents are driving kids to school each day. While children 12 and older are usually okay wearing only safety belts while riding in a car, it’s a different story for their younger siblings.
Infants, toddlers and pre-teens should be secured in a child safety seat every time they ride in a car.
And for good reason: according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 12. From 2006 to 2010, NHTS said 4,028 children aged 12 and younger were killed in crashes involving passenger vehicles. Another estimated 660,000 children were injured in crashes -- a figure greater than the entire population of Seattle.
"Safety is our top priority for everyone on our roadways, and we're calling on parents to do everything they can to protect our most vulnerable passengers," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a recent press release announcing a new Choose The Right Seat website for parents.
But what kind of child safety seat should parents buy?
For starters, NHTS officials offer these guidelines:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
In Milpitas, free car safety seat inspections are available at the , 1275 N. Milpitas Boulevard.
During the inspection, an officer will evaluate the seat’s safety features and show parents how to properly install it. Parents must bring the seat and its instruction manual with them to the inspection. In addition, they need to bring the car that the seat will be used in, the car owner’s manual, and the child that will be using the seat. The inspection can still be done even if the baby is not yet born.
Safety seat inspections are offered from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Appointments are required and can be made by calling Milpitas Police at 408-586-2400 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
For parents who want to do their own research, more information on child safety seats, including tips for installation, are available on a new Parents Central website launched in May by the NHTS.
"The proper use of a child seat is the most effective way to keep a child safe in a moving vehicle," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Parents and caregivers should always use a child seat and, based on NHTSA's updated guidelines, should keep their children in their current seats for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat."
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