OPINION

Get a car and booster seat check

In 2021, 710 children under age 13 were killed in passenger vehicle crashes in the United States and more than a third (36%) of those children were not restrained, according to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Last week was National Child Passenger Safety Week, and just as seat belts for adults remain the best way to protect travelers from being killed or seriously injured, car safety seats are the best insurance policy for children.

Motor vehicle collisions remain a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers the following tips to help parents and guardians find the right car seat, install it correctly and keep children safe:

Find the right car seat. Follow the guidelines based on your child's age and size. You can find them on the NHTSA website. You can compare brands under the NHTSA's Car Seat Finder tab on the site.

Install your car seat properly. Fire stations and law enforcement agencies have certified child passenger safety technicians who can help and assess whether a child seat is installed properly.

Register your car seat to ensure you stay up to date on any brand recalls and safety notices.

Rear-facing, booster or forward-facing. Learn the height, weight and age requirements to choose the right car seat for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children remain in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. Georgia state law requires children to be restrained in a car seat or booster seat appropriate for their height and weight until the age of 8.

Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer's instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner's manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.

To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer's height and weight requirements.

Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 13.

Research shows car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% with infants and 54% with toddlers in passenger vehicles.

If you're unsure of the requirements or if you have questions, please visit the Governor's Office of Highway Safety website at www.gahighwaysafety.org and schedule an appointment to have a car seat check.

-- Dalton Daily Citizen, September 23

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