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Buckle Up, It Can Save Your Child’s Life

Chris Brown crashes car in allyThe number of children killed in car crashes declined 43 percent between 2002 to 2011, according to an announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tuesday the CDC cited multiple reports that conclude that  child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts — depending on age and size of child) are the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a collision.

About one-third of the children ages 12 and under who died in car accidents in 2011 were not buckled up. There is also a racial disparity among the children who used the safety restraints. Almost half of all Black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children from 2009 to 2010.

It not known for sure why such a disparity exists, although CDC Director Tom Frieden did suggest it may be financial as a car seat can cost well over $100.

About 2 out of every 100 children live in a state that does not require safety restraints, however 9,000 lives were lost across the Unites States, because children were not secured with a belt or car seat, the CDC found.

“Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age- and size-appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle,” Frieden said.

“Parents and caregivers play an important role in keeping children safe in the car,”  said Daniel M. Sosin, acting director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Children often imitate their parents; so it’s important that parents model safe behavior and buckle up on every trip. Parents also should always buckle children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and, seat belts.”

The CDC  reminds parents to follow the guidelines below to properly secure a young child in a vehicle. The CDC also has various community programs that make safety restraints available to those who cannot afford them, and more information is available on its website.

To help keep children safe on the road, parents and caregivers must  use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts in the back seat—on every trip, no matter how short.

  • Use rear-facing car seats from birth up to age 2
    Buckle a child into a rear-facing seat until age 2 or when he reaches the upper weight or height limit for that seat.
  • Use forward-facing car seats from age 2 up to at least age 5
    When a child outgrows her rear-facing seat, she should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5 or when she reaches the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
  • Use a booster seat from age 5 up until a seat belt fits properly
    After a child outgrows the forward-facing seat, he should be buckled in a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. The recommended height for proper seat-belt fit is 57 inches tall.
  • Use a seat belt when it fits properly without a booster seat
    A child no longer needs to use a booster seat when a seat belt fits her properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Install and use car seats according to the owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified child passenger safety technician.
  • S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on and visit her website at
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