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Campaign urges parents, caregivers to use
appropriate safety seats for children

“Give your child’s safety a boost.”

These watchwords are at the heart of an ITD Office of Highway Safety campaign launched this month. The awareness campaign urges parents and caregivers to use the right safety seats for children, and about the need for booster seats.
As part of that effort, child safety seat information is front and center on the ITD web site, making safety tips a mouse click away. The campaign features Boise firefighter Captain Tony Casetta and ads appear on television, radio and billboards around Idaho.

“Keeping children safe on the road means putting them in the right safety restraint at the right age,” said Josephine O’Connor, Idaho Office of Highway Safety (IOHS).

While most infants and toddlers ride in the appropriate safety seat, 90 percent of children who should be in booster seats are not, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Booster seats bridge the gap between child safety seats and seat belts for kids under 80 pounds,” O’Connor said. “There’s a critical time when kids have outgrown safety seats but are still too small to use seat belts alone. They need the protection of booster seats.”

A booster seat elevates a child so a seat belt can fit correctly. Most seat belts are designed to protect an average–sized adult male. Young children using only seat belts are at risk of injuries to the abdomen and spine, and are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than if secured in a booster seat.

IOHS recommends booster seats for children who are 4 to 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Low-back booster seats that securely position the lap and shoulder belts properly are available for less than $20.

“Many people believe that if they follow a law requiring child safety seats for kids 4 years or younger and weighing less than 40 pounds, or instead use the seat belt alone, they’re adequately protecting their child,” O’Connor said.

“Unfortunately, that’s simply not true. Children tend to put the shoulder belt behind their backs because it’s uncomfortable – but doing so is illegal. It is the responsibility and obligation of the driver to make certain the child is safely restrained, whether in a safety seat or a booster seat.”

Use of booster seats is required in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Idaho does not require booster seats, although neighboring states, including Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Washington and Oregon do.

NHTSA offers four simple ways to increase safety for children riding in motor vehicles:

  1. REAR-FACING INFANT SEATS in the back seat from birth to at least 1 year old and weighing less than 20 pounds.
  2. FORWARD-FACING TODDLER SEATS in the back seat from age 1 to about age 4, or weighing 20 to 40 pounds.
  3. BOOSTER SEATS in the back seat from about age 4 to at least age 8, or taller than 4 feet 9 inches.
  4. SAFETY BELTS at age 8 or older, or taller than 4 feet 9 inches. All children 12 and younger, or weighing less than 100 pounds, should ride in the back seat and never in front of an air bag.