BEDFORD – Chief Robert Bongiorno and the Bedford Police Department would like to remind parents to make sure their children are properly buckled in and in the correct car seat for their age and size.
Next week, Sept. 15-21, is recognized as Child Passenger Safety Week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to the NHTSA, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children. In 2017, 35 percent of children under the age of 13 killed in passenger vehicles were not restrained in car seats, booster seats or seat belts. Car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers.
“We encourage parents to make sure their child is in the correct seat for their size and age, and to seek help from our trained safety seat installers to ensure their child’s safety seat is properly installed in their vehicles,” Officer Thomas Devine said. “Properly restraining your child is crucial for their safety while traveling and may very well save their life in a crash.”
To keep your child safe, Chief Bongiorno and the Bedford Police recommend making sure they’re in the correct car seat based on the following guidelines from the NHTSA:
The Right Car Seat for Your Child
- Infants under the age of one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. A rear-facing car seat has a harness and in a crash, it cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.
- Once your child outgrows a rear-facing car seat, they can be moved to a forward-facing car seat. Forward-facing car seats have a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash. Tethers should always be used for forward-facing car seats.
- Once your child outgrows a forward-facing car seat, they can be moved to a booster seat. A booster seat positions the seat belt so that it is properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
- For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. The proper placement of a seat belt restrains the child safely in a crash.
- Your child should not be moved to the next car seat level until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. In 2015, about 25.8 percent of children ages four to seven were prematurely moved to seat belts, when they should still have been riding in booster seats.
- Children under 13 should ALWAYS ride in the back seat.
Massachusetts parents are reminded that a child restraint is required for children ages seven and younger and under 57 inches tall. Adult safety belts are safe for children once they are eight to 12 years old or 57 inches or taller.
Always make sure your car seat is installed correctly. Most parents are confident that they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, but in 59 percent of cases the seat has not been installed correctly. Carefully read and follow the installation instructions included with a car seat, as well as the vehicle owner’s manual. Incorrect installation can expose a child passenger to the risk of injury or death in a crash.
The Bedford Police Department has two certified Safety Seat Technicians that can assist you in installing a new seat or inspecting an existing seat that you have in your vehicle. The department also has a limited number of child car seats available free of charge to those families whose seats are found to be expired, recalled or unserviceable. Parents can set an appointment by submitting a request with BPD online.