Children in the Car

June 1, 2005:  NHTSA Releases Child Seat ‘Ease of Use’ Ratings for 2005

     Child safety seats are easier to use according to an annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey released today. NHTSA rated 92 child safety seats from 14 different manufacturers for 2005.

     Clearer labels and instructions accounted for most of the improvements. Improved ratings were also scored for ease of installation, and whether the seats had to be assembled after purchase, or came pre-assembled and ready for use.

     “NHTSA’s ‘ease-of-use’ rating program provides parents and caregivers with valuable information that they can use for comparison shopping when buying child safety and booster seats,” said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, MD. “The program also serves as a powerful incentive to manufacturers to produce safe and effective seats that are simple to use”….

Full article, plus ratings, here.

December 15, 2004: A Virtual Car Seat Demonstration In Your Own Home

PHILADELPHIA — The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announces a new child passenger safety Web site as a holiday gift to parents. Just in time for the hectic and often dangerous holiday travel period, features short videos and comprehensive information to help parents protect children of all ages when they ride in vehicles – from installing child safety seats to reinforcing safe driving habits for teens.

     The new online resource draws on experience from Partners for Child Passenger Safety, a research partnership of Children’s Hospital and State Farm® that is the nation’s largest study of children in crashes. Since 1997, more than 300,000 State Farm customers have shared their crash experiences with Children’s Hospital researchers who are then able to determine the best ways to protect the nation’s children and save children’s lives.

More details here.

August 2, 2004:  NHTSA Reminds Parents Not to Leave Children Unattended in Vehicles

     The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign today reminded parents and caregivers that leaving children unattended in a motor vehicle can quickly lead to fatal consequences, especially in warm weather. The NHTSA also issued summer safety tips for parents and caregivers.

     Young children trapped in a hot, closed vehicle are at particularly great risk on a day that is sunny or humid. Even when the temperature is as mild as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, a closed vehicle can heat to levels that are dangerous for children within a short span of time.

     “It’s not only parents and caregivers who should be extremely vigilant. Anyone who observes a small child alone in a closed vehicle should contact emergency services immediately,” says Martin Eichelberger, M.D., president of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

Full details, with tips, here.

June 1, 2004:  If You Want Maximum Safety for the Children in Your Car, Look No Further Than

Sweden and Australia

  This Antipodean-Scandinavian duo are almost certainly the two world leaders for child safety in cars — the Aussies because it’s a subject they are rightly fanatical about, and the Swedes through Volvo.

During our search for international news items, at DSA, we found an ad, on an independent Australian website, for Volvo’s “Safety Manual — Children in Cars”.

Most kids love to sit in the front when Mum or Dad is driving if the passenger seat is empty. But did you know that a child less than 140cm tall (4ft 7in) is too short to sit in a front seat with an airbag? Or thatall children should continue to use rear-facing child seats until they are at least three years old?

The Volvo Cars website for Australia has a page on the topic (which isn’t on Volvo web sites for some other countries) and it has a brief yet excellent summary of the main safety factors. If you ever convey children, read it here and/or see Child Seats, Airbags, etc., below.

[Source: DSA originated]

May 15, 2004:  Child Passenger Safety Day  (at over 200 sites across the USA)

     The focus of this event is to ensure that children are properly secured in child safety seats or booster seats that are appropriate for their age and size. Many of the sites will also host a safety fair with educational activities including bike rodeos, in-line skating safety, and fire prevention safety.

     One of the early findings of Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) was that 83% of children between the ages 3 to 8 years were being prematurely graduated to an adult seat belt, rather than using a child safety seat or booster seat.

Also see the DSA section on Child Seats and Airbags (below)

May 12, 2004:  Child Heatstroke Deaths in Automobiles — A Greater Danger Than Many May Realize  

     Between 2002 and 2003, the number of heatstroke deaths among children left unattended in parked vehicles increased by 70 percent. As summer approaches and temperatures rise, a new campaign is underway to help prevent such tragedies.

     The National Safe Kids Campaign and General Motors are reaching out to parents and drivers who transport children, telling them to be wary of leaving children alone in parked vehicles. For the first time, education and outreach efforts are also being aimed at the general public. The campaign urges bystanders to seek help if they see small children left unattended in a parked vehicle.

     Parked cars are especially dangerous for children because a child’s body temperature increases three to five times faster than that of adults — and their bodies are less able to withstand the heat. So, on a sunny day, even at temperatures as mild as 60 degrees, a closed vehicle can become a very dangerous place for a child in just minutes.

[Source: Newstream, for GM]

Child Seats, Airbags, Etc.

Kids in seats which have airbags fitted can be in immense danger in a collision. ‘Kids and Airbags’ is the title of a highly informative article by the IIHS that should be compulsory reading for all adults who transport youngsters in their vehicles.

Children are safest if kept in rear-facing car seats until the age of three! Renowned for being at the forefront of car safety, Volvo firmly believes that most of us could improve the safety of the children who travel in our cars.

Some of the facts and advice will be surprising to American and British parents, yet research clearly demonstrates that children are safest if kept in rear-facing car seats until the age of three, when their neck has become strong enough to withstand the strain of the whiplash effect of a front-end collision.

Most Swedish children continue to travel facing backwards much longer than other European youngsters, and the difference in injury and death rates is striking. For example, the risk of a child dying in a car accident in France is twice as high as in Sweden, and German statistics reveal a similar pattern.

Other key information/recommendations in Children in Cars includes:

  •  Never put a baby or toddler in a rearward-facing seat, or anyone under the height of 4ft 7ins, in the front passenger seat of a car that is fitted with a passenger-side airbag, unless the airbag has been disabled by an authorised dealership
  • The importance of restraining a child in a car – not just for its own safety. In the event of a front-end collision, a child weighing 30kg (66 pounds), travelling in a car at 40km/h (25mph) will weigh up to the equivalent of a tonne by the time they hit you in the front – or go through the windscreen
  •  Booster seats with backrests provide better protection for children aged three or four or above than ones without backrests
    Children In Cars is available free to download from (Jan. 2004)Safety standards, for child seats, that parents need to be aware of are LATCH, and ISOFIX. These names may be thought of as interchangeable, but “LATCH” is more commonly used in the USA, and ISOFIX in Europe and elsewhere.