By Senitta Conyers
USAG Safety Office
Do you know the leading cause of death for children older than the age of two? The State Highway Administration has identified motor vehicle crashes as the culprit to these deaths. Proper restraint in vehicles can help reduce deaths and the SHA is working hard to keep parents and drivers informed of the proper methods of restraining children in passenger vehicles.
Maryland's Child Passenger Safety Law impacts children ages eight and below, went into effect Oct. 1. Every child in this age group must ride in an appropriate child restraint unless the child is 4-feet, 9-inches or taller.
A child restraint includes car seats, booster seats or other federally approved safety devices.Any child who meets the height requirements up to the age of 16 years old and not secured in a child restraint must be secured in a vehicle seat belt.
It is highly recommended that children under 13 years old should ride in the back seat, as that is the safest place for children.Most children need to ride in a booster seat from approximately age four until ages 10-12.
As a parent, I realize when children hit around six or seven they are independent and call themselves big kids. However, we must keep the safety of our precious ones in the forefront of our mind. Here is a test that you can do along with your children to see if they can go without a booster seat.
These are five simple questions and if you answer "no" to any of these, your child needs a booster seat:
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
Let's continue to work together with keeping our children safe as we travel on the roadways. If you still need help choosing the appropriate child restraints, or would like more information concerning child passenger laws and requirements, please contact the Maryland Kids in Safety Seats at www.mdkiss.org or (800) 370-SEAT.
You can also visit www.sha.maryland.gov for child passenger safety information.