Law enforcement encourages proper use of child safety seats

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COLUMBIA - Car crashes are the number one killer of children ages one to 12, and Missouri law enforcement agencies around the state are cracking down on the issue. September 13-19 is Child Passenger Safety Enforcement Week.

In 2013, seven children under the age of eight were killed in car accidents in Missouri. Sixty three other children suffered serious injuries from car crashes. 

Missouri State Highway Patrol Corporal Scott White said the biggest problem he sees with car seats begins with the installation.

"Sometimes the belts aren't tight enough, or the latch system isn't tight enough, or the child is just not properly fitted to that car seat," White said. 

When the seats are installed properly, they reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75 percent of child safety seats in the U.S. are not installed correctly. 

"You want to make sure the car seat is not touching the seat in front of it, and if it is latched down tight enough, that seat around the belt path, where it actually attached to the seat should not move more than one inch," White said.   

The appropriate seat for children varies by age. Kids under four years old or less that 40 pounds are required to ride in a child safety seat. Children ages four to seven or children weighing at least 40 pounds must ride in a booster seat. Missouri law requires all children eight and under to ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are 80 pounds or 4'9" tall. 

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