Car seat installation clinic.

August 26, 2015

LUDINGTON —  Over the next few weeks, local students will begin a new school year in Mason County. For some families, students will be driven to school by a parent or in a carpool. Although safety remains a top priority for many parents, a recent study that finds an alarming number of parents are allowing kids to use a seat belt alone before they are big enough. 

Safe Kids West Michigan will have certified child passenger safety technicians available to provide hands-on instruction on installing car and booster seats at Ludington Police Department on Wednesday, August 26 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Technicians will also be available to help parents evaluate seat belt fit. A limited number of car seats and booster seats will be available on a first needed, first served basis.

The report, Buckle Up: Booster Seats, is based on a national online survey of 1,000 parents of children ages 4 to 10. The study found seven in ten parents do not know that a child should be at least 57 inches (4’9-inches) to ride in a car without a booster seat. In fact, in practice, nine out of ten parents move a child from a booster seat to a seat belt too soon.

“Car seats, booster seats and seat belts are engineered to offer more protection than ever,” said Chief Mark Barnett, Ludington Police Department. “But we found there’s a need to remind parents, and anyone who drives a child, about the importance of using a booster seat until a seat belt alone fits safely.”

Booster seats protect children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seat belt. Seat belts don’t fit children properly until they are at least 57-inches (4-feet, 9-inches) tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. Michigan law requires children to use a booster seat until they are 4-feet, 9-inches or at least 8 years old.

The report also revealed that carpooling can be a particularly risky time for small passengers. One in five parents whose children carpool say they “bend the rules” when driving, letting children ride without seat belts and without the car seat or booster seat they would normally use.  And 61 percent of parents say they notice other carpool drivers bending the rules. Safe Kids research also shows that one in four parents report they don’t buckle up their children on every ride.