In our last post, we talked about the challenges the holidays often bring after a divorce. We recognize, too, that the holidays can be stressful for anyone. The crowds can be frustrating, the traffic can be twice as bad as it usually is, and, really, how many times do we have to hear "Baby It's Cold Outside" before we explode?
What we do not want to do is to sacrifice safety for the sake of getting somewhere quickly. And we want to make sure our loved ones, especially our children, arrive wherever they are going safe and sound. So, while we usually talk about family law here, we want to devote this post to car seats.
Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of death for children age 1 through 13, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Playing It Safe" publication. Just as adults have a significantly greater chance of surviving a car accident if they are wearing a seat belt, children have a much better chance of surviving a car accident if they are in an appropriate, property installed car seat or booster seat. In fact, between 1975 and 2010, car seats saved the lives of nearly 1,000 children under the age of 4.
And yet, the NHTSA says, too, that 1 in 4 car seats are used incorrectly. According to SeatCheck.org, the vast majority of parents and caregivers believe their car seats and booster seats are installed correctly, but 7 in 10 are not. This is easily remedied: Start with the NHTSA's SafeCar.gov website. Not only does the site provide a lot of valuable information about car seats, but it also provides links to local resources.
Another incentive: Illinois law requires that anyone driving with a child under 8 years old to secure the child in an appropriate child restraint system. There is a $75 fine for the first offense and a $200 fine for the second. And don't think that you won't be responsible if someone else is driving your young kids. It is the parent or guardian's responsibility to provide a car seat or booster seat to anyone who drives your kids around.
The holidays are a time for families to get together to celebrate, not to mourn. Keep your children and yourself safe.