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A week to focus on safely transporting children in vehicles

This week aims to emphasize making sure the youngest and smallest of travelers are properly secured in vehicles.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reminds parents and caregivers about keeping children safe as part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, which extends through Saturday.

CPS Week is a national initiative to raise awareness about car seat use and encourages caregivers to have their children’s seats in vehicles inspected by a certified CPS technician. The week culminates on National Seat Check Saturday.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 46 percent of vehicle seats are misused — unfortunately, that’s roughly half. OHSP and NHTSA are focusing on the proper use of vehicle and booster seats to reduce fatalities and injuries among children.

“Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children. Tweens, age 8 to 14, are most at risk for injury or death in a crash,” said Michael L. Prince, director of OHSP. “Children need to be buckled up every trip, every time. Parents and caregivers must know the best options and have the right resources when choosing a car seat or booster seat.”

A child should ride in a rear-facing car seat from birth to age 2, or when they reach the upper weight or height limit for the car seat. When a child outgrows that rear-facing car seat, the child should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5. A booster seat should then be used until a child is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.

A new initiative this year, piloted by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, aims to educate children ages 5 to 12 about riding safely in a vehicle, focusing on the benefits of booster seats and the importance of riding in the backseat until age 13. The Tween — Back, Booster, Buckle program is a statewide program managed by CPS technicians. In Michigan, there are more than 1,000 certified CPS technicians who are trained with the latest technology and information, which they share with community members at local vehicle seat checks. For a list of planned vehicle seat checks, and additional safety tips, including information on the Tween — Back, Booster, Buckle program, go to www.michigan.gov/carseats.

In addition to proper vehicle seat use, the OHSP also is raising awareness about the dangers of heatstroke, with 40 deaths nationwide so far this year. For more information on preventing heatstroke and for tools and tips, go to https://www.safekids.org/take-action-prevent-heatstroke#care.

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