Editorial: Child safety seats a must

Today begins Child Passenger Safety Week, an awareness campaign that encourages parents, grandparents and caregivers to ensure

that child safety seats in all their vehicles are properly installed and universally used, even on the shortest of trips.

Car crashes, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-12.

In 2012, 25 children ages 1-14 died in crashes in Louisiana. The use of a properly installed car seat may have been a life

saver in some of those fatal crashes.

Thankfully bygone are the days when young children rode unrestrained — oftentimes standing on the floorboard of the backseat

— or used seatbelts designed for adults or were confined in flimsy car seats that offered little, if any, protection.

Safety messages, public awareness and child safety seats and laws have led to a much safer environment for children riding

in vehicles. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that child restraints have saved nearly 9,000 children’s

lives between 1975 and 2008.

Today’s car seats on engineered much better to protect children. But their installation can sometimes be confusing and their

effectiveness thwarted if they are not properly installed.

Periodically throughout the year, law

enforcement agencies set up inspection stations throughout our area to

help parents

and guardians ensure that their child safety seats are properly

installed. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commissions website,

www.lahighwaysafety.org contains a list of child safety

inspections.

Instructional videos and tutorials on child safety seats can be found at www.safercar.gov and by typing in ‘‘install child

care seat’’ at www.YouTube.com.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, inspection stations will be set up across Louisiana.

We encourage parents and guardians to take advantage of these free inspections and hands-on demonstrations by state troopers,

police and sheriff deputies to ensure that the child safety seat in their vehicles is properly installed.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.