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Child Passenger Safety Week 

portrait of a Mother securing her baby in the car seat in her car

Motor vehicle accidents have remained the leading cause of fatality for children under the age of 14 for decades. Sadly, most of these tragedies on the road have been preventable with the use of an appropriate car seat.

In 2020, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that out of the 755 child passenger vehicle fatalities reported that year, at least 42% of the victims were unrestrained at the time of the crash. These statistics do not include the number of children improperly restrained, nor do they account for the catastrophic accidents where a determination of restraint could not be determined. 

It’s the law in New York (and most other states) that children remain in an appropriate child passenger safety seat for a reason– car seats save lives. That’s why national organizations and advocacy programs support Child Passenger Safety Week every September. From September 14th to the 24th, this vital safety campaign helps provide resources to parents and guardians every year on how to find, fit, and properly install car seats to reduce the number of preventable injuries to children on the road. 

Car Seat Options and How to Choose 

The NHTSA states that car seats reduce fatal injuries in children by up to 71%. Protecting your child from harm while riding in a car starts with finding the right seat. 

There are three types of car seats the NHTSA suggests for parents and guardians, each with a few styles depending on a child’s size:

  • Rear-Facing Car Seats: Infant Carrier, Convertible Seat, All-in-One Seat
  • Forward-Facing Car Seats: Convertible Seat, Combination Seat, All-in-One Seat
  • Booster Seat: High Back Boosters, Backless Booster Seat, Combination Seat, All-in-One Seat

Picking just any car seat will not ensure your child is protected in an accident. When shopping for a car seat, consider your child’s weight, height, and capabilities– never go by your child’s age. Choosing a seat too small or large can cause additional injuries when motor vehicle accidents occur. 

While new car seats can be expensive, the NHTSA warns parents against using cheap, damaged, or second-hand products. Car seat components are only meant to last six to ten years before they begin to wear. Damaged or worn safety components can fail when an accident occurs, putting your child at an elevated risk for injury. 

For a guide on finding the right car seat for your child, SafeKids offers an Ultimate Car Seat Guide to help you choose. 

Common Car Seat Errors to Avoid 

SafeKids estimates that only 1 in 5 child passenger safety seats are correctly installed. The most common installation mistakes include: 

  • Placing a car seat in the wrong seat of a vehicle (ex: in the front instead of the back)
  • Turning a car seat around too early
  • Neglecting to use the back tether
  • Not securing the car seat by the seat belt or safety buckles
  • Placing shoulder straps too low or high 
  • Leaving harnesses too loose

These and other errors can lead a child to become injured, ejected, or worse when faced with the impact of an accident. In addition to choosing the right car seat, it’s critical that parents and guardians follow all manufacturer installation instructions to ensure a safe fit. 

NYS Child Passenger Safety Seat Laws 

New York State has strict child passenger safety restraint laws that drivers must follow when transporting children. These include: 

  • Children under age 2 must remain in a rear-facing car seat 
  • Children under age 4 must remain in a child safety seat appropriate to their size
  • Children under age 8 must remain in a child restraint system as defined by the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213

Fit Check Your Car Seat 

You can ensure your car seat is installed correctly this Child Passenger Safety Week by utilizing fit stations in your area. Fire stations, police stations, and other nonprofit organizations often provide free fit checks by appointment all year round. With National Seat Check Day on September 24, there are even more opportunities to take advantage of. 

You can find fit check stations in NYC here: 

New York County

  • New York City DOT Safety Program 
  • Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office
  • The Car Seat Lady

Kings County

  • Baby Bodyguards
  • Baby’s Den
  • Brooklyn Fitting Station 

Bronx County

  • Bronx Fitting Station 

Richmond County 

  • How-to-SAFETY
  • NY Metro CPR Fitting Station 
  • Richmond University Medical Center
  • Staten Island University Hospital 

Queens County 

  • EAC Safe Start at H.B. Chevrolet
  • NY Coalition for Transportation 
  • NYC DOT Safety Programs
  • Queens Fitting Station 
  • Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York 

Pazer Epstein Jaffe Fein & Gozenput, P.C. NYC Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys

At the law firm of Pazer Epstein Jaffe Fein & Gozenput, P.C., we have been fighting for the safety of New York City pedestrians and cyclists for over 60 years. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury at the hands of a negligent driver, our experienced trial attorneys are here to help. To speak to one of our attorneys for a free consultation, please fill out our online form or call 212-227-1212.

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