Child Passenger Safety Week encourages use of car seats
COLUMBIA - According to Missouri state law, all children over the age of eight do not have to ride in car seats, but some kids don't meet height and weight requirements to ride in the car safely.
Sunday kicks off with National Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from Sept. 23-29. During this week, law enforcement officers are going to be on the look out for child seat safety violations. If caught in the act, parents can expect to see a $50 fine.
The week ends with National Seat Check Day on Sept. 29. Car seat inspection stations will be located all around Missouri. Drivers can bring their car seats to these locations for a free inspection to make sure they are being installed correctly.
"We recommend that a child stay in a booster seat until they are at least 4-feet-9-inches tall or 80 pounds," Tara Van Loo, the MODOT child passenger safety coordinator, said.
She said a seatbelt does not fit a child properly until they are that height and weight.
"A seat belt is going to cut them in the wrong positions on their bodies. It’ll cut on their throat level or their stomach level," Van Loo said.
She said proper car seats and booster seats allow the seat belt to sit over a child's clavicle and hip bones, the strongest parts of their bodies.
In 2017, 12 children less than eight years old were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Missouri, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. Three of those children were not restrained in a car seat or wearing a seat belt.
"While they may be old enough, they still may not weigh enough, or be tall enough to buckle up and skip the booster or car seat," the coalition said in a release.
Infants and toddlers typically sit in rear-facing car seats, while order children sit in front-facing five-point-harness seats and booster seats.
Van Loo said the type and fit of a child's safety seat is important.
"You need to make sure it's a proper fit," she said. "We want to make sure that children are safe on the road."
In addition to the height and weight requirements, MODOT said children under 13 are safest riding in the back seat of a car. This is because air bags can deploy and injure children.