In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of
death of children age 4 and ages 11 to 14 years old according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012. Many of the
injuries and deaths occur as a result of the misuse of car seats,
booster seats, and seat belts (AAA, 2012). Motor vehicle crashes are
one of the most common causes of unintentional injury in children that
can be prevented.
One study established that 72 percent of nearly 3,500 observed car seats and booster seats were misused in some way that could increase a child’s risk of injury during a motor vehicle accident (NHTSA, 2006). In 2010, it was estimated that 303 children under the age 5 were saved as a result of child restraint use. The current California Law requires children to be restrained up to 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches.
County of San Diego Child Welfare Services’ social workers and social work interns are frequently transporting children in their vehicles. In order to ensure that County employees are properly securing our children, all social workers and interns participate in Car Seat Safety Classes prior to transporting children. They receive this training as part of the Social Worker Initial Training and the Internship Orientation training series.
These trainings consist of a one hour classroom training about the basic mechanics of car seats, seat belts, and proper seat choice depending on the specific child. Classes are taught by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians, who receive 40 hours of training in order to be able to become certified. County employees are then observed properly installing car seats into a car to ensure that they are able to properly secure both the seat and the child. County employees who are parents themselves are shocked to learn that they have been installing car seats inappropriately. Some common mistakes include using a seat that is not the appropriate size for their child, not securing the child snuggly enough, or not securing the seat into the vehicle correctly. The goal of Child Welfare Services is to ensure that County employees are not only able to safely transport the children served, but also help to educate parents in the community.
For those interested in receiving education on car seat safety and installation, contact the Pacific Safety Center at 1-855-4PSC411, www.psc411.come. To find an inspection station near you, go to www.nhtsa.gov/cps.