Keeping Children Safe on the Road; DPH Encourages Safe Child Transportation

November 24, 2014

This November, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is joining child advocates in recognizing Child Safety Protection Month, an annual opportunity to champion the importance of child safety and health protection methods. DPH’s Injury Prevention Section is using this month to educate citizens on how to keep children safe while on the road as well as raise awareness about child injuries and deaths due to motor vehicle crashes.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, according to a 2014 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Over the past decade, the nation has experienced a 43 percent reduction in motor vehicle crash deaths among children ages 12 and under.

Despite the reduction in motor vehicle crashes, there remain major areas of concern in child occupant safety, particularly in Georgia.  According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA), the 5 to 7 age group continues to experience one of the highest rates of motor vehicle crash injuries and deaths in the state.

Public education is a key component to decreasing risks associated with children riding in vehicles.  While many families want to protect their little ones while on the road, finding the correct information for proper child transportation procedures can be challenging.

To help Georgia citizens learn how to keep children safe while on the road, DPH’s Injury Prevention Section coordinates the Child Occupant Safety Project (COSP), an initiative that provides child safety seats and education on proper installation and use through the Mini Grant Program.  The program works with local community partners to provide education and services to help parents and caregivers with limited resources learn how to transport children safely.

As a component of the COSP training program, participants secure hands-on lessons and instructions that demonstrate proper child safety seat precautions. The training workshops center on four primary points of child car seat safety that are supported both by statewide and national laws: 

  • If a child is less than 4-feet-9 inches tall, they require additional restraints in a vehicle – In Georgia, the law indicates children under age 8 should ride in a car seat or booster seat; however, best practice states that children should be in a car seat or booster seat until they reach 4-feet-9 inches.
  • Children should not be bundled while buckled in a car seat – Children should be strapped in their car seat harness, booster seat or seatbelt without thick coats and blankets to ensure the seat belt or harness is close to their body and provides optimal protection.
  • Car seats should not be loose when installed in the vehicle – Car seats should be installed with either the vehicle seat belt or the vehicle’s Lower Anchor and Tether System for Children (LATCH), but not both unless the vehicle allows this.  A car seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back at the belt path.  Once a child is between 4 to 7 years old, booster seats are used as positioning devices so that the lap and shoulder belt fits them properly.
  • Children should only ride in the front seat after reaching 13 years of age – Your child should not sit in the front seat until they are at least 13 years of age. In Georgia, according to the law, children have to remain in the back seat until they reach this age unless there is no other seating position available.

Learn more about DPH’s Child Occupant Safety Project by visiting http://dph.georgia.gov/child-occupant-safety-project-overview.

To locate the car seat Mini Grant program for your county, please call 404-679-0500 or visit www.gacarseats.com and scroll down in the main page section and click on the “Child Occupant Contact List 2014.”

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