Free child safety seat checkup events slated

  • Courtesy photo To support Child Passenger Safety Week, several educational community events and a car seat check event are planned in several locations around the Big Island.

The state Department of Transportation, together with the police departments from all four of the state’s counties and child passenger safety advocates, will participate in national Child Passenger Safety Week from Sept. 15-21.

This campaign is dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible – every trip, every time.

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Child passenger safety technicians will educate parents and caregivers about correct usage of the right car seats or regular seat belts appropriate for their keiki’s ages and sizes.

To keep all children safe, parents and caregivers should use a safety seat that best fits their child and vehicle. A complimentary public car seat check event is slated for 9 a.m.-noon Sept. 21, National Seat Check Saturday, at the Target store in Kailua-Kona.

To support Child Passenger Safety Week, educational community events also are planned for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Naalehu Community Center, 95-5635 Mamalahoa Highway, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo.

In Hawaii, children younger than 4 years old are required to ride in a child safety seat; children ages 4-7 must ride in a child passenger restraint or booster seat. Violators are required to appear in court. If convicted, they must attend a four-hour class and also might be assessed a penalty of up to $500.

Parents and caregivers can check the following to determine when a child can be moved from a child safety seat to a booster seat:

• The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest, not cross the neck or face.

• The lap belt must lie snugly across the child’s upper thighs, not the stomach.

• The child’s knees should be able to bend comfortably at the edge of the seat when his or her back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back.

• The child should be able to stay seated properly during the entire trip.

To educate the public about Hawaii’s child restraint law, the DOT is airing public service announcements on television and in movie theaters statewide. Hawaii’s child passenger safety media campaign is 100% federally funded.

For more about child safety, as well as a list of child restraint inspection stations and community car seat checks, visit www.kipchawaii.org or www.safercar.gov/parents.

NHTSA recommends registering all car seats and booster seats with the manufacturer for a notification in the event of a recall. For more information about car seat safety and to locate a certified child passenger safety technician, visit www.nhtsa.gov/carseat.

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Nationwide child passenger safety statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• A child younger than 13 years old was involved in a passenger vehicle crash every 32 seconds in 2017.

• From 2013-17, there were 3,313 children younger than 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles. Fatalities decreased in 2017 from 2016, the first decrease since 2014.

• On average, nearly two children younger than 13 were killed every day in 2017 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups and vans.

• In 2017, more than one-third (35%) of children younger than 13 killed in passenger vehicles were not restrained in car seats, booster seats or seat belts.

• NHTSA’s latest research shows nearly 2 out of 3 car seats are misused. When used correctly, car seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers (1-4 years old) in cars, and by 58% and 59%, respectively, for infants and toddlers in light trucks.

Car seats, booster seats and seat belts save lives:

• In 2017, among children younger than 5, car seats saved an estimated 312 lives. A total of 371 children could have survived if they had been buckled up 100% of the time.

Car seats work best when used correctly:

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• Most parents are confident that they correctly installed their child’s car seat, but in most cases (59%) the seat was not installed correctly.

• According to NHTSA data, in 2015, about 25.8% of children 4-7 years old were prematurely moved to seat belts when they should have been riding in booster seats.

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