Keeping Kids Safe in the Car

Next week, September 17-23, is Child Passenger Safety Week, with September 23 being National Seat Check Saturday. Here’s some information on how to keep your child safe in the car and what PTAs can do to support child car safety.

Did You Know?

  • Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. Many times, deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
  • Illinois requires all children under the age of 8 be property secured in an appropriate child safety restraint system. This includes the use of booster seats, which must only be used with a lap/shoulder safety belt. A child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat without a booster seat, secured with a lap belt only.
  • The Illinois Secretary of State’s office provides child safety seat inspections by certified child safety seat technicians at many Driver Services Facilities throughout the state through its Keep Me in a Safe Seat Program. To schedule a child safety seat inspection, please call 866-247-0213 or complete a Child Safety Seat Inspection Form.

Child Safety Seat Guidelines

  • Read and follow the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions for installation and height/weight guidelines.
  • Newborn to 12 months and weighing less than 20 pounds should always ride in a rear0facing infant seat.
  • Ages 1 to 4 years: Children should remain in rear-facing safety seat until age 2, or until they are at the upper height or weight limit of the seat. Once they out-grow a rear-facing safety seat, they may transition to a forward-facing seat with harness system.
  • Ages 4 to 8 years: Children should be secured in a forward-facing safety seat with internal harness system until they reach the upper height or weight limit allowed by car seat manufacturer. Once they out-grow the forward-facing seat, they may transition to a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • Ages 8 to 12: Children should stay in belt-positioning booster seat until they are tall enough to properly fit in an adult lap/shoulder belt.

Parents and Caregivers

  • Set an example by wearing seat belt on every trip no matter how short.
  • Make sure children are properly buckled up in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight.
  • Have all children age 12 and under sit properly buckled in the back seat. If possible, properly buckle children in the middle back seat because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
  • Never place a rear-facing child safety seat in front of an air bag.

What PTAs Can Do

  • Partner with local emergency personnel, hospitals, or other organizations to schedule a “Safety Seat Check”
  • Contact the Illinois Secretary of State’s office to do a Child Passenger Safety Presentation for your parents and community. To schedule a presentation call 866-247-0213 or complete a Traffic Safety Program Request form and select “Child Passenger Safety Presentation.”

Additional Resources