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Child Passenger Safety Week in Texas


Child Safety Awareness | Image by Texas DPS Press Release

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During Child Passenger Safety Week, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been raising awareness about the proper way to secure young passengers in cars and other vehicles. The weeklong event runs from September 18 to September 24. A press release from DPS shares that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death in children across the nation.

While Texans may believe they have securely buckled their children, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that around half of car seats are not used correctly.

The 2020 National Child Passenger Safety Best Practice Recommendations from DPS list four different phases of seat recommendations for young people based on their age. Phases 1-3 include some kind of car seat.

Children under the age of 1 should use Phase 1 recommendations, which include a rear-facing seat. Forward-facing seats can be used with Phase 2 recommendations after children outgrow a rear-facing seat.

Maturity plays a key factor in determining when a child is ready to transition to a Phase 3 booster seat, where children use an adult lap and shoulder belt until the adult safety belt will fit them properly. All car seats and booster seats should be installed in the backseat of a vehicle.

In Phase 4, when children have outgrown the booster seat, DPS recommends that children use the adult lap/shoulder safety belt, as long as it is able to fit them properly. DPS notes that all children who are 13 or younger should always ride in the backseat.

It is best for children to be kept in each phase as long as possible, according to DPS recommendations.

In the September 19 press release, the department shared specific tips for keeping children restrained properly in a vehicle. It is first advised to make sure the car seat can be installed properly in your car.

The other tips listed include:

  • Avoid purchasing a car seat if you are not aware of the history.
  • Model good behavior to young passengers and make sure you are wearing your seat belt, so your children will know it is the right thing to do.
  • Infant car seats should always be rear-facing and never used facing forward.
  • Be sure to check the maximum height and weight limits of the car seat so children may be properly transitioned to the next one.
  • For older children who are using booster seats with lap belts, ensure the belt is across the pelvic area, and the shoulder belt strap is placed across the shoulder. It should never be placed along a child’s neck or abdominal area. It should never be used under the arm or behind the back as it could cause severe injury in a crash.
  • Texas law states all children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches, are required to be in the appropriate car seat wherever they ride in a passenger vehicle. The car seat MUST be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Children 8 years and older must be in a seat belt. If an adult does not properly restrain a child, they can receive a $250 ticket.

DPS notes that another leading cause of non-crash-related death among children is heat stroke from being accidentally left inside a vehicle.

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