Citrus Heights Sentinel Logo

CHPD: More than half of children are improperly buckled in car seats

car seat
Stock photo, child in car seat.

Updated Sept. 29, 5:53 p.m.–
Gabriel Wray contributed to this report–
Recent statistics show 35% of children under the age of 13 were killed in vehicle collisions where they were improperly fastened. In an effort to combat that fatal reality, Citrus Heights police are participating in a national campaign this week to educate parents and caregivers about the risks of not properly buckling children up.

The campaign, Child Passenger Safety Week, is going on nationwide from Sept. 23-29.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car seats can help save the lives of infants and toddlers in the event of a vehicle collision, reducing the risk of death by 71 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

“Using car seats properly that are age and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your children safe,” said Citrus Heights Police Chief Ronald Lawrence in a Sept. 25 news release. “Car seats matter. They save lives when used the right way.”

Still, even when car seats are used, children are improperly buckled 59% of the time, police said.

“Even if you think your child’s car seat is installed correctly, it doesn’t hurt to get it checked,” said Chief Lawrence. “Car seats can be tricky, and we are here to help.”

The police department said car seat safety checks are available at every California Highway Patrol office. The nearest offices to Citrus Heights are located at 5109 Tyler St. in Sacramento, and 11336 Trade Center Drive, in Rancho Cordova. The Citrus Heights office of AAA Northern California at 6109 Sunrise Blvd. also offers free car seat inspections by appointment, according to the company’s website.

Car seat safety checks have also been offered by the Citrus Heights Police Department at various events during the year.

According to the CHP, California’s current height and weight requirements for car seats are as follows:

  • Children under 2 years of age should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 40 or more pounds, or 40 or more inches tall.
  • Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
  • Children who are 8 years old or taller than 4-feet-9-inches do not have to be secured by a booster seat, but must wear a properly fastened safety belt.

Citrus Heights police also offer the following tips for parents and caregivers on car seat safety:

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and vehicle owner’s manual: Pay attention to how you adjust the car seat’s harness for a proper fit.
  • Register your seat right away: Mail in the registration card that came with the seat, or go to the NHTSA website to find out how to register online to receive manufacturer notifications in the event of a safety recall.
  • Rear-facing as long as possible: Keep a child in a rear-facing seat up to the top height or weight allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Research shows that children are safest when rear-facing.
  • Forward-facing car seats: Once your child outgrows a rear-facing seat, keep your child in a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether. Tethers should always be used for forward-facing car seats. Children are encouraged to stay in forward-facing seats as long as possible before moving to a booster seat.
  • Backseat safety: Children under 13 should always ride in the back seat.
Like local news? Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam, ever. (Click here)