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A Note from state senator shannon jones

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children ages 2 to 14 – with the nonuse or improper use of child seats and safety belts a major contributor in many crashes. To help keep kids safe and promote the proper use of child safety restraints, September 12-18 has been designated “National Child Passenger Safety Week.”

Throughout the week, events will be held across the area to help families properly choose and install car seats and booster seats. On Friday, September 18, I will be in attendance at a car seat check event at the Evenflo Headquarters in Miamisburg from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. No appointment is necessary, and I would encourage everyone to stop by if they have questions about child safety seats or are interested in checking that their seats are properly secured and installed.

The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton also conducts car seat safety checks on the fourth Thursday of each month. You can get more information about this program or schedule an appointment by calling (937) 641-3700. For those in the Cincinnati area, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will be holding car seat checks on September 12 at Jordan Crossing Center and on September 15 in Liberty Township. The hospital will also be giving away up to 50 free car seats at these events, but the child must be present in order to receive a car seat. You can find more information about these events or make an appointment for a car seat check at by calling (513) 636-7865.

In addition, many local fire and police stations also provide assistance in making sure car and booster seats are installed correctly. You can find more information about car safety seats as well as the location of the nearest child seat fitting station by visiting the NHTSA’s Web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

When choosing a car safety seat for your child, the NHTSA recommends always following the manufacturer’s guidelines and use the seat until your child no longer meets the height or weight recommendations. Children should always be restrained in the back seat. For infants, choose a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches at least age 1 and weighs 20 pounds. They should then be moved to a forward-facing car seat until around age 4 or they weigh 40 pounds. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 should ride in a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits them properly – the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest.

Although it is best to buy a new car seat, you can use a secondhand seat. Just make sure the seat has not been involved in a crash, is less than six years old, has all of its parts and instruction book, has not been recalled and shows no signs of wear and tear on the harness, padding or frame. Do not use a seat manufactured before 1981, as it does not meet current safety standards.

While much attention has been paid in recent years to ensuring infants and young children are properly restrained in a car seat, safety advocates and state officials have also been working to ensure that children who have outgrown the traditional “infant seat” are properly restrained. While many people believe that restraining older children in a seat belt is sufficient protection, much research has shown that utilizing only the car’s safety belt can cause head trauma and other complicated internal injuries in case of an accident

The Partners for Child Passenger Safety reports 81 percent of children in Ohio between 4 and 8 years of age are restrained in an adult seat belt. These children are 3.5 times more likely to suffer serious injury than if they were to be correctly restrained in an age-appropriate booster seat. An editorial by the Cincinnati Enquirer last year noted that more than 18,000 injuries to children and 176 deaths could have been prevented in 2007 in Ohio through the correct use of booster seats.

As a concerned parent myself, I introduced a bill during the last General Assembly requiring the use of booster seats for children between the ages of 4 and 8 or under 4’9”. Using a booster seat allows a car’s adult safety belt to properly fit a child, reducing the likelihood of serious injuries in the event of a car crash. I am pleased to say this bill became effective Ohio law earlier this year, making Ohio one of 47 states to require booster seats in an effort to keep our kids safe.

With millions of cars on the road each day, it is more important than ever to ensure our children are properly restrained whenever they are in the car. By promoting the correct use of age-appropriate restraint systems for children and ensuring they are installed correctly, we can help keep our children safe and secure.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at SD07@senate.state.oh.us or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.

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