The U.S. Department of Transportations National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released results of a major survey showing that relatively few children who should be riding in booster seats are doing so.
The nationwide telephone survey indicates that just 21 percent of children age 4-8 are at least on occasion riding in a booster seat while traveling in a passenger vehicle. Another 19 percent of children in this age range were restrained at least on occasion in a front-facing child safety seat.
This survey shows that children are at unnecessary risk of being injured in a crash because theyre either in the wrong safety seat for their size or worse, riding without any kind of safety restraint at all, said Josephine OConnor of ITDs Office of Traffic and Highway Safety (OTHS).
Children are safer and generally more comfortable in a seat belt that fits, which is what a booster seat provides, OConnor adds.
Children who have outgrown their child safety seat should ride in a booster seat until they are at least eight years old or 4 feet, 9 inches tall, according to NHTSA. Children placed in poorly fitting adult safety belts can suffer serious life-threatening injuries or risk being ejected from a vehicle in the event of a crash.
According to the survey, 85 percent of the parents and caregivers of young children had knowledge of booster seats. Among those who were aware of booster seats, 60 percent said they had used them at some time with their children.
During 2001-2003 in Idaho, 66 percent of the children age 4-8 who died in motor vehicle crashes were not using any type of safety restraint. Yet, almost 70 percent of Idahoans have heard of or received information about booster seats, according to a 2004 OTHS survey.
New York recently became the 27th state to adopt a booster seat law; the law will take effect on March 1, 2005. All of the states that border Idaho, with the exception of Utah, have booster seat laws.
NHTSAs new findings on child passenger safety are taken from a national survey to monitor the publics attitudes, knowledge, and self-reported behavior regarding safety belts, air bags, crash injury experience and emergency medical services.
The survey results also provide an array of information
on other child passenger safety issues.
The campaign will involve public awareness efforts by dealerships throughout the country. Dealers will conduct child safety seat inspection programs for the public and will distribute at least 5,000 NHTSA brochures to promote booster seat use.
For more information about appropriate child safety seats, visit http://www.itd.idaho.gov/ohs/ChildSafety/index.html
The new research report can be viewed on the NHTSA website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/traffic_tech/2004/TrafficTech294/index.html