SANTA CLARA, UT – Motor vehicle crashes are the single largest threat to the health and safety of Utah children. In Utah, 90 percent of all child restraints are used improperly. To address this issue, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department in partnership with Safe Kids Washington County and Safe Kids Utah will be holding a child passenger safety certification course. This course will be held March 20-23 at the Santa Clara City Offices, 2603 Santa Clara Drive.
This four-day course will increase the number of individuals in Washington and Iron Counties who are certified to check car seats for proper installation and provide education to parents and caregivers. Twenty-five individuals from various community organizations have been invited to complete this course.
According to the Utah Department of Highway Safety, 1,521 children ages 0-14 were injured and 11 were killed during motor vehicle crashes in 2010. Every year, more than 500 children are hospitalized, and every hour a child is rushed to an emergency room after being injured in a car crash.
“The vast majority of these deaths and injuries can be prevented if all child passengers are properly restrained in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt”, said Cambree Johnson, SWUPHD Injury Prevention Coordinator. “It is important that children be placed in the restraint device that offers the maximum protection for their size and age. With the wide variety of vehicles and car seat models, choosing the proper restraint can be challenging for parents and caregivers”.
The good news is that the majority – 72-85 percent – of children ages 0-4 ride in a child restraint, but once a child reaches age 5 the rate of restraint use drops to 20 percent.
“We still have work to do to ensure that our children safe,” said Terry Smith, Road Traffic Safety Coordinator with the Utah Highway Safety Office and lead instructor of the course. “It is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to make sure that all children are riding safely and securely. Young children just can’t do it themselves.”
In conjunction with this training, Safe Kids Washington County will be sponsoring a public car seat checkpoint on Friday, March 23 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Smith’s Food & Drug, 20 North Bluff St. in St. George.
“We will be checking seats, selling seats, and even giving a few seats away for free,” said Heather Hallman, Safe Kids Washington County. “Best of all, we will be helping parents and those that care for children have the peace of mind to know that their child is a safe as possible.”
Safe Kids USA is a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 1 to 14.