Missouri News Service

Mona Shand

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Your car will remind you to check the oil, but experts say it’s also important to check what’s carrying your most precious cargo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says child deaths in car crashes have declined by 43 percent over 10 years, but there’s still work to do because in one in three accidents that claimed the life of a child age 12 or younger, the child was not properly restrained.

Erin Sauber-Schatz, the Transportation Safety Team lead in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at the CDC, says parent education and car-seat distribution help to make sure more children are buckled up properly.

“Child passenger restraint laws that increase the age for car seat or booster seat use result in getting more children buckled up,” she says.

In Missouri, children under age four must be secured in a car seat, and those from four to eight must be either in a car seat or a booster seat, which is in line with the CDC’s recommendations.

A CDC report shows about 12 children die in car crashes each week in the United States.

Health care providers also play a role in making sure children are safe in cars and trucks, with Sauber-Schatz suggesting a conversation in the doctor’s office.

“And they can counsel parents and caregivers at each well-child checkup to use age and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts on every trip,” she explains.

In general, the CDC recommends all children should ride in the back seat until age 13.

Rear-facing car seats are for infants up to age two.

Front-facing seats are suitable from two to five.

And booster seats are to be used until a child has grown enough for a seat belt to fit properly across the chest and lap.