April 8, 2004

One third of children not restrained properly in automobiles

Ottawa, Ontario – With this year’s World Health Day dedicated to road safety, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) reminds Canadians that many deaths and injuries can be avoided through diligent use of seat belts, and proper use and installation of child car seats. “Every year, about 10,000 children – 12 and under – are injured, some of them fatally, in traffic collisions in Canada,” said David Flewelling, President of CAA. “Almost 200,000 people have perished on our roads in the last 50 years, which is a staggering figure that exceeds the total number of Canadians killed in two world wars. The distressing fact is that many of these deaths and injuries could be avoided through the proper use and installation of child car seats and through the proper use of seat belts.”

Surveys have shown that as many as one-third of Canadian children are not properly restrained when they are travelling in motor vehicles. Child restraint inspection clinics held by various organizations across the country have shown incorrect use and installation rates ranging from 80% to 100%.

Furthermore, while nine out of ten Canadians use their vehicle seat belt, 40% of Canadians killed in motor vehicle crashes are not buckled up.

CAA offers the following points to keep both children and adults protected in automobiles:

  • Never leave a child unattended in an automobile.

  • Always place a child in a child car seat that meets Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and use and install it exactly as instructed by the manufacturer. The seat should meet the specific height, weight, and physical development needs of your child.
  • Refer to your Vehicle Owner’s Manual for special instructions on protecting children in your vehicle.
  • Never place a child car seat in front of an activated air bag. A deploying air bag can strike a child car seat or child passenger with enough force to cause injury and even death.
  • Keep children away from all air bags – this includes side airbags. Children who are leaning against a side air bag when it inflates are at risk of serious injury. Transport Canada advises that children, who are kept away from the path of the side air bag, for example, children travelling in age-appropriate, correctly installed child restraints, are not at risk of serious injury.
  • If a warranty/registration card comes with your seat – complete and mail it back so the manufacturer can advise you of any safety-related defects or other information affecting your child car seat.
  • Children 12 and under should be properly secured in the rear seat of your vehicle.
  • Never use a child car seat that has been in a collision or that has structural damage such as chips or cracks in the shell of the seat, frayed belts and harnesses, broken stitching on harnesses, warped metal framework, etc.
  • Children rarely sit still for very long, so make sure you frequently check on your child. They may have undone their seatbelt or the harness straps on their child car seat.
  • Never place, or allow your child to place the vehicle seat belt under their arm or behind their back. In a collision, this could result in serious injuries.
  • Adults can set a good example and make sure they always buckle up while in a vehicle. The lap portion of the vehicle seat belt should be worn low and snug over the hips and the shoulder belt across the chest. Never place the shoulder belt behind you or underneath your arm.

CAA sends out this reminder to Canadians as part of Canada’s Road Safety Vision 2010 project, in which it is a partner, as well as to support World Health Day, which this year is focussing on road safety.

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