What you should know - and think you know - about child safety seats

"People look at the law and the law says a child up to the age of 8 needs to ride correctly in a vehicle with a safety seat. Because of that, many parents assume kids at age 4 would move to a booster seat. That's not the case," said Passino LaBarge. "It's based on the age and the size of the child. Two kids can weigh the same amount but be different sizes. We put them in a child seat safe for that child."

"We have kids who are 10 and 12 years old who still only weigh 50-60 pounds. So, they are more safe in a booster seat," she continued. "People look to the law to guide them, but the law is just a guide. It's about which seat is safest for the child."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one study found 72 percent of nearly 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that "could be expected to increase a child's risk of injury during a crash." The center's most recent figures, from 2005, showed 1,335 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 184,000 were injured. Among children younger than age 5, in 2006, an estimated 425 lives were saved by the use of car and booster seats.

The center also credited child safety seats for reducing the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants, and by 54 percent for children ages 1-4.

Those figures can continue to be greatly reduced if more people take advantage of child safety seat inspections and educational information, said Passino LaBarge.

"We've learned ways that make [safety seats] a little easier to install correctly and we teach these ways to parents and grandparents," she said. "We teach them so they can be safe when they travel. If the child is seated incorrectly, the child is in great risk of injury and death, no matter how long the trip is. After all, we know most accidents occur within the first five to 10 miles from your home."

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