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Parents Still Making Five Common Mistakes When Using Car Seats

This week is Child Passenger Safety Week (September 16-22) so we’re calling on all parents to take a few moments to make sure their car seats are installed properly. Parents are making five critical, but fixable, mistakes when using car seats, according to new data announced today by Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation. With so many safety features now available in both cars and car seats, parents are urged to make sure their kids are getting every advantage by taking the time to do this 15-minute at-home annual checkup:

Car Seat Checkup Checklist

♥     Right Seat?     This is an easy one. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Just double check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe.

♥     Right Place?    Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13.

♥     Right Direction?   You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age 2. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors. Continue to use a booster seat until your child properly fits in the seat belt, usually when they are between the ages of 8 and 12.

♥     Inch Test.   Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.

♥     Pinch Test.   Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

The at-home checklist is meant to be a first step. Parents are encouraged to read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals to help with the checklist. Parents are also encouraged to bring their car, car seat and child to a child safety seat inspection station near them. For further information go to www.safekidsnewjersey.com.

New Seat Belt and Crosswalk Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey’s seat belt law has been tightened, something safety advocates have long pushed for. Signed on January 18, 2010 and effective immediately, legislation now requires ALL occupants in passenger vehicles including vans, pickup trucks and SUV’s that are required to be equipped with seat belts to buckle up, regardless of their seating position in a vehicle. A secondary offense, the new law allows police to issue summonses to unbuckled back seat occupants, 18 years of age and older, when the vehicle they are riding in is stopped for another violation.

Crash data show that unbelted rear-seat passengers can become high-speed ‘bullets’ during a crash, impacting other passengers with enough force to kill or seriously injure them. Studies show that the use of safety belts by back seat passengers can reduce the chance of death and serious injury up to 75 percent.

In addition, our current pedestrian law has been changed. Drivers are now required to come to a full stop and remain stopped for pedestrians while in a crosswalk or controlled intersection.  Previously, drivers were required to yield to pedestrians. Violators must pay a fine of $200.00 which will be imposed by the courts.

Chester Car Seat Inspection Station Celebrates First Anniversary

The Chester Car Seat Inspection Station celebrated its 1st Anniversary on Thursday, January 21, 2010. The Child Passenger Inspection Station opened in January 2009 as an expansion to the Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Program of Northern NJ Safe Kids/Safe Communities. The station has become a visible force for CPS in Morris County. On average 15 car seats are inspected by our certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.

The Car Seat Technicians celebrated the 1st Anniversary of Chester’s Car Seat Inspection Station on Jan. 21, 2010

Our partner, the Chester First Aid Squad has donated the use of its ambulance bays and a storage area for the program. Additional funding has been secured by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Morristown Memorial Hospital as well as Safe Kids Buckle Up and individual donations.

Senior CPS Technician Jackie Leach coordinates the efforts of both career and volunteer CPS technicians. “The goal is to see that every child leaves safer than they arrived,” says Leach. The program has been well received by all.”

Pam Fisher, Director of NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety, Jackie Leach, CPSTI and Laurie Cawley share a laugh at the 1 year anniversary of the Chester Car Seat Station.

Pam Fisher, Director of NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety, Jackie Leach, CPSTI and Laurie Cawley share a laugh at the 1 year anniversary of the Chester Car Seat Station.

Hours of operation are the 1st Tuesday of the month 2pm – 6pm and the 3rd Thursday of the month from 7am – 12pm. The  Chester First Aid Squad is located at  100 North Road in Chester. For more information call 908- 879-5560.

Child Safety Seat Inspections Can Save Lives

It’s the responsibility of every single parent and caregiver to make sure their children are safely restrained – every trip, every time. 

Safe Kids Buckle Up, the child passenger safety program of Safe Kids USA in partnership with General Motors and Chevrolet, holds child safety seat checkups and other vehicle safety events throughout the year; click here for more information about inspections around New Jersey.

Nationwide, the Safe Kids Buckle Up program has reached more than 17 million people and has inspected over one million car seats. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, 8,325 lives of children under age 5 have been saved by the proper use of child restraints during the past 30 years.  In 2006, among children under 5, an estimated 425 lives were saved by child restraint use. 

Parents and caregivers should follow a few basic guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect their children in a vehicle:

1. For the best possible protection keep infants in a back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible—up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in a back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 to 80 pounds).

3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should ride in booster seats, in a back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt rests on the shoulder or collar bone (usually when the child is between 8 and 12 years old, approximately 4’9” tall and 80 to 100 pounds).

4. After children fully outgrow their booster seats, they should use the adult seat belts in a back seat. The lap belt should lay across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits rests on the shoulder or collar bone.

Parents – Not Sure Which Car Seat to Use?
cps1Are you looking for a new car seat for your infant, toddler or 4-8 year old child but overwhelmed by the choices and worried about how to properly install your car seat? The 4 Steps for Kids program will help you properly choose and install the correct car seat for your child.


Is your child safety seat properly installed?

Click here and here to find the child seat inspection station nearest you. Trained child seat inspectors will verify – free of charge – the installation of your child seat.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
LATCHLATCH consists of lower attachments on child seats and a set of tether anchors in the vehicle to hold the child seat in place without the use of the vehicle’s seat belts. Click here for additional information.