(Washington, DC) Mayor Vincent C. Gray, along with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Department of Transportation (DDOT), urges parents and caregivers to have their children’s car seats checked on National Seat Check Saturday on September 24. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24, certified child passenger safety technicians from various District agencies will be available to inspect car seats and provide free hands-on advice from 10 am to 2 pm at DMV’s Vehicle Inspection Station located at 1001 Half Street, SW.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released updated car seat recommendations for children through age 12," said Mayor Gray. "We want to help you do all you can to best protect your child when traveling. During Child Passenger Safety Week, we urge all parents and caregivers to have your car seat checked by a certified technician. When it comes to the safety of your child, there is no room for mistakes."
In motor vehicle crashes, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than 1 and by 54 percent for children 1 to 4 in passenger cars, according to data collected by NHTSA. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks. And among those who were fatally injured where restraint use was known, 42 percent were unrestrained. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size.
The updated recommendations emphasize how important it is to keep children rear-facing for as long as possible, and in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them to the next step. For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should have their safety seat inspected to ensure their children’s car seats are used correctly:
- Ages birth to 2: Rear facing until age 2 or until the height or weight limit of the convertible Child Restraint (CR).
- Ages 2 to 8: Forward facing in a harnessed CR for as long as possible, to the product's height or weight limits, and then, In a belt-positioning booster (BPB) until the child can fit properly in a seat belt, typically when he or she is 4 feet 9 inches tall or about 8 to 12 years old.
- Over age 8: Using the vehicle seat belt, always using a lap-shoulder belt for best protection.