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Honoring National Child Passenger Safety Week
Dear Street Smarts, Q: Why do people put child safety seats behind the driver's seat? We live close to a daycare and I watch people stand in oncoming traffic getting their kids in and out of safety seats. The passenger side seems safer to me. Michael Dempsey, via email A: You are correct. The driver's side is not the safest place for small children to be, said Officer Sarah Jackson of the California Highway Patrol's Aptos office. This, because the driver's side is the side with the most sideswipe collisions, she explained. “The middle seat is the preferable placement for a child safety seat due to the natural buffer zone for side impacts and it protects small children from coming in contact with side air bags,” Jackson continued. “However, many rear middle seats are not conducive to child safety seats, as they will often have the 'hump' in the middle, or no LATCH system in place. In those vehicles, the passenger side is preferable to the driver side.” Families with two children should place the younger child in the center of the rear seat with the next oldest on the passenger side, said Jackson. Free Child Seat Event Speaking of children in cars, the CHP is hosting a free child safety seat event where trained passenger restraint system technicians will inspect and correctly install child safety seats. Regarding children old enough to ride outside booster seats, the technicians will evaluate the proper and safe fit of the seat belt. The event comes as this week has been designated National Child Passenger Safety Week. While 96 percent of parents and caregivers are confident their child safety seats are installed correctly, research shows seven out of 10 children are actually improperly restrained. As a result, hundreds of children are killed or injured annually in traffic collisions in California, the CHP reported. Recent statistics show that 18 of 25 children under age eight who were killed in a collision were not properly restrained. Meanwhile, 467 children under the age of eight were injured. On the other side of the coin, however, properly installed child safety seats can reduce fatalities among infants by 71 percent; 54 percent among toddlers. California law requires children to ride in either a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle until they turn eight-years-old or 4 feet 9 inches tall. The CHP's first come, first served event runs from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 at its 10395 Soquel Drive office in Aptos. For information or to schedule an inspection at a different time and day, call 662-0511. Learn more about child passenger safety at online at http://www.santacruzhealth.org/phealth/family/3seatsforkids.htm or http://www.ots.ca.gov/Child_Passenger_Safety.asp.