Washington, D.C. – Fewer children died in roadway crashes in the U.S. in 2009 compared to the previous year, but many children are still not riding in appropriate child restraint or booster seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Last year, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for young people ages three to 14. In 2009, an average of four children age 14 and younger were killed and 490 were injured every day.

“Make no mistake about it, child safety seats save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Children who graduate too soon from their safety seats are at risk of serious injury. Parents and caregivers should ensure that safety seats are installed correctly and should always use them. Their children depend on it.”

After children outgrow their forward-facing seats, usually around age four and 40 lbs (18 kg), they should ride in booster seats until the seatbelts in the vehicle fit them properly. Seatbelts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, usually at age eight or when the child is 4-foot-9 tall.

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