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Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of two children under 13 were killed and 308 were injured every day in 2014 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans. The good news is that the 2014 numbers show a significant improvement from 2013, with a 5-percent decrease in fatalities and a 10-percent decrease in injuries in 2014. By promoting child passenger safety education, these numbers can continue to decrease.

Today, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories require the use of car seats for children traveling in motor vehicles. Car seat laws were enacted because they save lives and prevent injuries. In 2014, of the 602 fatalities that occurred in children 12 and under, 191 were unbuckled. Of the estimated 112,000 injuries that occurred in children 13 and under, 6,000 were unsecured and injury potentially could have been avoided had these children been buckled up. By working together, we can work toward eliminating these preventable deaths and injuries.

According to the NHTSA, 59 percent of car seats are misused.  Child Passenger Safety Week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers about the importance of correctly installing and using of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.  Parents also will be reminded of the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer so they can be notified in the event of a recall. Using car seats that are age- and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your child safe. The NHTSA also warns that too often, parents move their children to the front seat before they should, which increases the risk of injury and death. The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seats of cars. They also state that around 24 percent of children 4 to 7 who should be riding in booster seats were prematurely moved to seat belts, and 9 percent were unbuckled altogether.

Car seat sizes and rules by age

The NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing-only “infant” car seat, he/she should travel in a rear-facing “convertible” or all-in-one car seat. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing size limits, the child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seats with harness, children should be placed in booster seats until they’re the right size to use seat belts safely.

Child Passenger Safety Technicians will hold free car seat-check events at the following locations:

The purpose of these seat check events is to make sure that the child is in the right car seats for their age and size, and that the seats are installed correctly. (Call to make an appointment.)

  • Tuesday, Sept. 20: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center 520 S. Eagle Road (Front Entrance). Register online or call (208) 381-9000.
  • Thursday, Sept. 22: Meridian Fire Department Winter Car Seat Inspection Event: Station Location to be determined. Call 888-1234 to schedule an appointment for the next car seat event.
  • Saturday, Sept. 24: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Kohl’s Meridian store, Eagle Road & Ustick, (208) 381-1719
  • Saturday, Oct. 29: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., St. Luke’s Internal Medicine Parking Lot 300 E. Jefferson Street Boise. Register online or call (208) 381-9000. Boise’s event for Child Passenger Safety Week at this location has been fully booked. However, they offer other car seat safety check dates, like this one.

The Following Are Year-Round Community Car Seat Check Resources for Treasure Valley:

These places may offer car seat checks year-round, by appointment only. More locations in other parts of the state can be found here.

  • Ada County Paramedics, Boise: (208) 287-2950
  • Boise Fire Department, Boise: (208) 570-6572
  • Canyon County Paramedics, Nampa: (208) 795-6920
  • Garden City Police Department, Garden City: (208) 472-2950
  • Kuna Fire Department, Kuna: (208) 922-1144
  • Meridian Fire Department, Meridian: (208) 888-1234
  • Middleton Fire Department, Middleton: (208) 585-6650
  • St. Alphonsus Family Center, Boise: (208) 367-4788
  • St. Luke’s, Boise: (208) 381-3033
  • St. Luke’s, Meridian: (208) 381-3033

No matter how short or long the trip, we urge everyone to help reduce injuries and the tragic loss of life by buckling up themselves and their children—every trip, every time.