Waushara County Health News

Child Passenger Safety Week: Facts and talking points


Every day in America, millions of parents and caregivers travel with children in their vehicles. While some children are buckled in properly in the correct car seats for their ages and sizes, most are not. According to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half (46 percent) of car seats are misused.

To help combat this issue, NHTSA is sponsoring Child Passenger Safety Week from Sept. 15-21. This campaign is dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible-every trip, every time.

Lives lost and injuries

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children. Every 32 seconds in 2017, one child under the age of 13 in a passenger vehicle was involved in a crash. From 2013 to 2017, there were 3,313 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles. Fatalities decreased in 2017 from 2016, the first decrease since 2014. From 2013 to 2017, there were 1,161 tweens (8 to 12 years old) killed in passenger vehicles. In 2017, the birth-to-three-years-old age group had the highest number of fatalities (247, or 37 percent) among children in passenger vehicles. Of those aged three and under who were killed, approximately 22 percent were unbuckled. In 2017, over one-third (35 percent) of children under 13 killed in passenger vehicles were not restrained in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts. Statistically, more crashes occur during school hours (during the day, Monday through Friday).

Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts save lives. In 2017, among children under 5, car seats saved an estimated 312 lives. A total of 371 children could have survived if they had been buckled up 100-percent of the time.

Car seats work best when used correctly. In passenger cars, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. According to NHTSA data, in 2015, about 25.8 percent of children 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to seat belts, when they should have been riding in booster seats.

Wisconsin Child passenger safety laws

Children must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are one-year-old and weigh 20 pounds. It is strongly encouraged that children ride rear-facing until at least the age of two. Keep your child rear facing as long as they are within the height and weight requirements for the car seat. Children must ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they are 4 years old and weight 40 pounds. Children must ride in a booster seat until they are eight-years-old or weight 80 pounds, or are four-feet nine-inches tall. Booster seats should not be placed in the front seat of a vehicle. Children must be restrained in a seat belt when they outgrow the requirements of a booster seat.


Remember to read and carefully follow the installation instructions included with a car seat, as well as the vehicle owner’s manual. Failure to do this can lead to incorrect installation and exposing a child passenger to the risk of injury or death in a crash. All children under 13 should always ride in the back seat. Tethers should always be used for forward-facing car seats.

The Waushara County Health Department has three staff members that are Certified Car Seat Technicians. They offer free car seat checks, car seat education, and installation and have a variety of resources available.