National Child Passenger Safety Week

In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children. Proper use of car safety seats helps keep children safe.

SPEARFISH, S.D. — An important job as a parent or caregiver is keeping your child safe when your child is riding in a vehicle.


The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child’s age, size, and developmental needs.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child restraint systems are often used incorrectly.

Lisha Beyer, AAA Agent, says, “Read the safety instruction on how to install it, make sure that the restraints are not too loose and that the car seat is tight in the car – against the seat.”

Car Seat Safety

AAA South Dakota urges parents to seek expert assistance with car seat installation if needed and try to avoid common mistakes, like advancing children into the next stage of safety restraints too soon.

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) car seat recommendations advises parents to keep their children’s car seats in the rear-facing position for as long as possible. Infants should remain rear-facing until they reach the upper weight limit of their seat, and all children under age 13 should be placed in the back seat.

Car Seat Safety

Safety seat harnesses should always be snug and lie flat without twists. Harnesses should be at or above the shoulders when forward-facing in order to hold the child’s body upright and against the seat. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.

Don’t buy a used car seat or accept a free used one unless you’re sure that it’s never been in a crash. Even if it looks ok, there may be damages that aren’t visible.

Beyer says, “No matter how good the seat looks, you should know if it’s been in an accident or not.”

Car Seat Safety

When children are buckled correctly, there is risk of serious and fatal injuries, even for a quick jaunt.

“No matter how short the trip is, you should always use a car seat, or a safety seat or a seat belt,” says Beyer.

Remember to register your car seat or booster seat with the seat manufacturer so you can be notified in the event of a recall. Parents and caregivers can view more information on car seat safety and locate a certified technician, click here.

For more information and resources on proper child seat restraints, click here.

Healthy Children.org also has great resources.

Click here for South Dakota seat belt laws.

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