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WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, September 17, 2020) –– Every day in America, too many children ride in car seats that have been installed incorrectly, or are riding in the wrong car seats for their ages and sizes. Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An estimated 46% of car seats and booster seats (59% of car seats and 20% of booster seats) are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. Even worse, some children ride while completely unbuckled.
During National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 20-26, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges parents to review car seat laws, be sure children are in the proper child seat or booster for their age and size, avoid common mistakes, and seek expert assistance with car seat installation.
“Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children,” said John B. Townsend II, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Using car seats that are age- and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your children safe. Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can make all the difference.”
Child Passenger Safety Statistics
Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement on "Child Passenger Safety" advises parents to keep their children's car seats in the rear-facing position for as long as possible. Previously, the AAP recommended rear-facing car seats up until the age of two.
Parents and caregivers should know the child passenger laws in the state they live in and, if traveling, any states that they may travel through, explain AAA Mid-Atlantic.
In Washington, D.C., “DC law requires that any child up to 16 years of age must be in a properly installed child safety seat or restrained in a seat belt. Children under 8 years of age must be properly seated in an installed infant, convertible (toddler) or booster child seat,” according to the Metropolitan Police Department website. In a first time offense, an offender is given a choice of a $75 fine or a child restraint safety class ($25 fee).
Maryland’s Child Passenger Safety Law states, “A person transporting a child under the age of 8 years in a motor vehicle shall secure the child in a child safety seat in accordance with the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions unless the child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall or taller.” In addition, “Every child from 8 to 16 years old who is not secured in a child restraint must be secured in the vehicle’s seat belt, in every seating position in the vehicle.” The fine in Maryland is $50.
In Virginia, children ages 8 until 18 must be secured in a child restraint, booster seat, or safety belt regardless of seating position. Children under age 8 must be secured in a child restraint or booster seat, as appropriate. As of July 1, 2019, Virginia law requires children to remain rear-facing until “(i) the child reaches two years of age or (ii) the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device.” The fine for a first violation in Virginia is $50.
Seven Common Car Seat Mistakes
Remember to register your car seat or booster seat with the seat manufacturer so you can be notified in the event of a recall. Parents and caregivers can view more information on car seat safety and locate a certified technician at nhtsa.gov/carseat. The Maryland Department of Health’s Kids In Safety Seats (KISS) program is offering Video Car Seat Assistance. Registration is available at the department’s website.
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