Effingham County Health Department Gives Kids a Boost

September 3, 2013

Originally published Feb. 6, 2012

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 3 – 8. Most of the fatal or serious injuries could have been prevented had they been using a car seat correctly or at all. In an effort to educate and promote the new Georgia child passenger safety law, a statewide partnership with support from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety between the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the Office of Injury Prevention, and the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) to educate parents on Georgia’s car seat and booster seat law was created – Give Kids a Boost Campaign. This partnership worked together to promote and provide education on the new law requiring children up to eight years old to be in an approved car seat and installed in the back seat. The new state law took effect July 1, 2011. The previous law only required children to age six to ride in a car seat. 

The local Health Districts planned back to school Immunization events with GSP education and distribution of booster seats. This combined two important issues to protect Georgia’s children. Each Health District was provided a booster seat educational program and fact sheet handout for parents/caregivers on the new law. Each GSP Post was provided booster seats for distribution at these events. More than 125 events took place around the state and over 2,300 booster seats were distributed to families. Most events were held in July and August of 2011, immediately following when the new law went into effect. 

The law brings Georgia in line with the age recommendations the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Georgia is already one of 47 states that require booster seats or other appropriate devices for children who have outgrown their car seats but are still too small to use an adult seat belt safely. 

Many parents are not aware of the law, or do not know how to properly secure their children in approved car seats or booster seats. These facts prompted Effingham County Health Department in the Coastal Health District to hold a community event to educate parents about the importance of child safety seats and give booster seats to those who met eligibility criteria.

Thirteen Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians from the Effingham County Health Department and Georgia State Patrol (GSP) distributed 51 booster seats and checked 14 car seats for proper installation in just two hours. 

“This event was a great opportunity to spread the word out about child passenger safety,” said Tiffany Jackson, Environmental Compliance Specialist for the Effingham County Health Department. “Many parents and caregivers took advantage of the event and were able to come out and get information about how to keep their child as safe as possible while in the vehicle. We find 80 to 90 percent of child restraints are installed or used improperly. We hope this event and future events will help to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities as well as increase awareness about child passenger safety.”

According to NHTSA, research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (younger than 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

“Part of what we do in public health is to try to prevent illness and injury,” said Jackson. “Car seats do just that – prevent injury. It is our hope that this campaign and the event we held will ultimately help prevent unnecessary injuries and even death.” 

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