Editorial - These mistakes could take a child's life.
When it comes to child car seats, parents aren't getting it.
Three out of every four child restraints are used incorrectly, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), which issued a news release about the problem last week in conjunction with National Child Passenger Safety Week.
This means that children are riding in the wrong type of restraint or the restraint is not properly secured.
This is a problem not to be taken lightly.
The DPS reports that from 2003 to 2007, 48 children younger than the age of 10 were killed on Minnesota roads and more than two-thirds of them were not restrained or properly secured.
Child car seats should not be looked on as an inconvenience but rather a life saver. Since 1991, out of the 35,000 children in accidents who were properly restrained, a clear majority, 86 percent, were not injured. Another 13 per-cent suffered only minor injuries.
In Minnesota, a common mistake parents make is ignoring booster seats - seat lifts that help seat belts fit children properly. Only 30 percent of 4 to 8 year olds in the state use boosters.
A poor seat belt fit can contribute to serious injury, ejection and death in traffic crashes, warn DPS officials. Booster seats are recommended for children 4 to 8 years old and those shorter than 4-feet, 9-inches.
A sign that a seat belt isn't fitting a child the proper way: If the child wraps the shoulder belt behind him to avoid the belt rubbing against his neck.
The DPS said the most common child passenger safety mistakes are:
Turning a child from a rear-facing restraint to a forward-facing restraint too soon.
Restraint is not secured tight enough - it should not shift more than one inch side-to-side or out from the seat.
Harness on the child is not tight enough - if you can pinch harness material, it's too loose.
Retainer clip is up too high or too low. It should be at the child's armpit level.
The child is in the wrong restraint. Don't rush your child into a seat belt.
Here's a good Web site to download facts sheets and a child safety chart that identifies the proper seat for children as they grow and age: www.buckleupkids.state.mn.us. The site also contains recalls and manufacturer information.
The Alexandria Technical College's customized training department is offering a car seat passenger training course tomorrow, October 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. Although it's geared for foster care and child care providers who transport children younger than age 9, it's also available to the general public. For more information about fees and registration, call (320) 762-4405 or 1-888-1313.
Of all the things that drivers transport, chil-dren are their most precious cargo. Make sure your child will be as safe as possible in the event of a crash. A few minutes of precaution and education can spare a lifetime of regret.