Sgt. Brian Gorsky
Clarkstown Police Dept.
20 Maple Avenue
New City, NY 10956
Clarkstown Police Department helping to spread the word about
major updates to Child Seat Guidelines
New City, NY- The
Clarkstown Police Departmentís Child Passenger Safety Team wants to help get
the word out to parents and caregivers that on March 21, 2011, the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendation on car seats. There are
2 major changes to the policy. The AAP guidelines are typically used by
pediatricians to give advice to parents on which car seat to use. The
recommendations have been updated to reflect more of an age and weight based
set of guidelines and stress that parents/caregivers keep their children in
each type of car seat (rear facing, forward facing, booster) for as long as
possible before moving them up to the next type of seat.
The first major change relates to children under the age
of 2. The new recommendation is that children remain rear facing until the age
of 2 years old or until they reach the maximum height or weight limit
of the car seat they are using. Each car seat manufactured has a rear facing
height and weight limit and they typically range from 20 lbs to 40 lbs.
Convertible car seats, which can be used rear facing and forward facing,
usually have a separate height and weight limit for when the seat is used in
the forward facing position.
The second major change relates to the use of booster seats.
The new recommendation states that children should remain in a booster seat
until they are 4í 9Ē and are between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. In
assessing whether or not a child can use a seatbelt without a booster, parents
should follow the 5-step test:
the lap belt lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach?
the shoulder belt lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck
the childís knees bend comfortable over the front edge of the vehicle seat?
the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
the child stay seated like this for the whole trip.
If a parent can answer YES to
all 5 of the questions, the child can safely use a seat belt without a booster.
If they answer NO to any of the 5 questions, they should remain in a booster
Parents are also
reminded that children should ride in the rear of a vehicle until they are 13
years old and although the Federal Aviation Administration permits children
under age 2 to ride on an adultís lap on an airplane, they are best protected
by riding in an age and size appropriate restraint (note that booster seats
cannot be used on airplanes).
The changes are
based on a 2007 research study published in the journal Injury Prevention that showed that children under age 2 are 75%
less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear
facing. The rear facing position reduces stresses on the head, neck and spinal
cord which is particularly important for growing babies. Children riding rear
facing longer is nothing new in many European countries where they have
recommended that for several years.
Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death
for children ages 4 - 16 even though the rate decreased by 45% from 1997-2009.
Fatalities are just the tip of the iceberg however. For every fatality, about
90,000 children are hospitalized and more than 2,000,000 are injured seriously
enough to require medical treatment each year.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)
also updated their guidelines pertaining to car seats so they are consistent
with the AAPís new recommendations. Parents/caregivers can get more information
at the AAP website (www.aap.org) or the NHTSA website (www.nhtsa.gov).
The Clarkstown Police Department runs a monthly child seat
fitting station in which child seats are checked and parents/caregivers are
instructed on their proper installation and use. The fitting station is run by
appointment only. To schedule an appointment or get additional information, go
to our website at www.clarkstowncarseats.com
or call 845-639-5930.