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CPD Child Car Seat Safety Updates

Professional Press Release


Sgt. Brian Gorsky

Clarkstown Police Dept.

20 Maple Avenue

New City, NY 10956

Main 845-639-5800

Fax 845-708-2526

Clarkstown Police Department

Press Release

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:

1.     Does the lap belt lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach?

2.     Does the shoulder belt lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face?

3.     Do the childís knees bend comfortable over the front edge of the vehicle seat?

4.     Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?

5.     Can 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 seat.

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 ( or the NHTSA website (

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 or call 845-639-5930.


Town of Clarkstown 10 Maple Avenue, New City, NY 10956 (845) 639-2000
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