If you have children that still need either a car or booster seat, have you ever wonder what kind of car seat does your child need or what is the law when it comes to young children and car seats? Or are you worried if the seats are installed right?
Thanks to an $85,700 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the San Joaquín County Public Health Services will be conducting a year-long project to encourage parents and caregivers to keep their children in booster seats until they reach 8 years old or 4’9” tall as required by California child passenger safety law.
“While most parents and caregivers understand the importance of car seat use for very young children, many incorrectly assume that after a child outgrows a car seat with a built-in harness, they are ready to ride in cars restrained by a seatbelt alone,” said Dr. Alvaro Garza, San Joaquin County Public Health officer. “In reality, children who have outgrown their car seats should ride in booster seats until they are 4’9” tall so the seatbelt fits them correctly.”
County officials said that moving children out of car seats and booster seats too soon leaves them vulnerable to serious injury and death.
According to Garza, typically, children do not reach 4’9” tall until they are between 8 – 12 years old.
County data shows that from 2011-2014, 80 percent of child fatalities - between the ages of 0 to 7 years old - from car crashes in San Joaquin County were linked to being unrestrained or improperly restrained.
According to Krista Dommer, Coordinator Public Information and Communication Office, the county’s Public Health Services will use the OTS’s grant funding to enhance its continuing efforts to keep children safe in and around cars and decrease motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries among children.
County’s public health services officials said that although child passenger restraint systems cannot protect all children from death and injury while riding in cars, booster seats, when used correctly, can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent in comparison to children in seat belts alone.
San Joaquin County still ranks in the top third of California counties for traffic collision injuries and deaths, highlighting the need for proper use of child restraint systems. In recent years, the county has made progress in reducing motor vehicle injuries and fatalities.
“This grant enhances our efforts to make children in our county safer by expanding the reach of child passenger safety education classes and car seat check-ups to assist parents and caregivers with appropriate car seat and booster seat usage,” Dommer said.
According to Dommer, project activities will also include partnering with local elementary schools to promote the use of booster seats among students and working with the Stockton Police Department to provide support for continued enforcement of child passenger safety laws.
“Years of research tells us that education and enforcement work best jointly to combat crash-related injuries and deaths in children,” said Rhonda Craft, OTS Director. “This grant brings both tactics together, with the Office of Traffic Safety and San Joaquin County Public Health Services working in concert to help keep children safe across the county and state.”
For more information on car seat education classes and car seat check-ups available through San Joaquin County Public Health Services, call (209) 468-8914.
The classes are free and take places every Wednesdays. Car seat inspections are available by appointment.
Child Passenger Safety Program
420 S. Wilson Way, Stockton
Car Seats Safety classes are conducted by a NHTSA certified child passenger safety technician. The classes are free and take places every Wednesdays. Car seat inspections are available by appointment.