October 13, 2004

Booster seats not being used for children aged four to nine

Burnaby, B.C. – In a recent observational survey conducted for the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation and Insurance Corporation of B.C., 82 per cent of children aged four to nine were being exposed to a significantly increased risk of death and injury because they were not using booster seats. Children are transported unsafely primarily due to a lack of knowledge about the importance of booster seats to child passenger safety.

“The fact is that seatbelts are designed for adults. Children up to about the age of 9 need child seats appropriate for their age, weight and size when travelling in a vehicle. Without it, they’re just not as safe as they could
be,” says David Dunne, Provincial Program Manager, BCAA Traffic Safety

While the death rate from car crashes for children under five years of
age and between 10 and 14 years has declined dramatically (52 per cent and
25 per cent, respectively, between 1997 and 2001), the death rate for children
between the ages of five to nine has not changed at all. Standard vehicle
seatbelt systems are generally not designed for children less than 145 cm
(4’9″) and weighing less than 36 kg (80 lb) – on average, children younger
than nine years of age. Studies show that children restrained in seatbelts
alone are three times more likely to be injured in a crash than children
properly secured in age-appropriate restraints. Out-of-position lap belts can
cause serious internal injuries. If a child’s upper body ‘jackknifes’ over a
high-riding lap belt, internal injuries or spinal damage can occur. Or,
because children too small for regular seatbelts may slouch forward, they
increase the chances of ‘submarining’ out from under the lap and shoulder
belt. Booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury and death by
59 per cent.

To raise awareness that children aged approximately four to nine, or who weigh 18 to 36 kg (40 to 80 lbs), need to use booster seats to allow seatbelts to fit them properly, the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation/ICBC Child Passenger Safety Program launched a number of public awareness and educational initiatives, which began with Child Passenger Safety Week (October 3-9). The initiatives target kindergarten-age children, their parents, Parent Advisory Councils and school districts.

For more information, visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

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