HONOLULU – Child Passenger Safety Week is September 19-25, 2021, and the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT), wants to make sure your keiki is in the right seat! The week is dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about the importance of correctly choosing, installing, and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
HDOT is encouraging all parents and caregivers of young children to double check your child’s car seat or booster seat and ensure that it’s the correct seat for your child’s age and size, and that it’s installed correctly.
“Mothers and fathers have a lot on their plates, but we hope that Child Passenger Safety Week will provide an opportunity for parents and caregivers to take some time to ensure their keiki is as safe as possible when in a vehicle,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children nationwide, and the latest research shows that nearly half (46%) of car seats are misused.
“Using age and size-appropriate car seats and installing them correctly are the best ways to reduce these fatalities,” explained Butay. “It is also important that parents and caregivers ensure that, if a child is too large for a car seat, they are first put into a booster seat until the seat belt can fit correctly.”
Car Seats Versus Booster Seats
NHTSA and HDOT recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they are ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, a child should be placed in a booster seat until big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. You can assess if your child is big enough by performing the four-step seat belt fit test:
- Does the vehicle lap belt fit across your child’s upper thigh?
- Does the shoulder belt fit across your child’s shoulder and chest?
- Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat when his or her back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back?
- Can your child stay seated like this the whole trip?
If the answer is “no” to at least one of these questions, your child is not big enough to wear a regular seatbelt and must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat.
Don’t feel pressured to put your child in a seat belt too soon. Booster seats are an essential step between car seats and seat belts. These transitional seats position the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body.
Learn About Car Seat Safety Virtually
Child passenger safety technicians will offer free virtual car seat safety checks and education to parents as part of National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Virtual car seat safety checks are by appointment and include step-by-step instructions on how to install and use car seats correctly. Technicians will also help determine if your child is in the right seat for their age and size and explain the importance of registering car seats with their manufacturers so parents and caregivers can be notified if there is a recall.
To make an appointment for a free virtual one-on-one car seat check, call (808) 527‑2588. For more information on child car seat safety, visit https://kipchawaii.org/car-seat-safety