Coalition offers information on child passenger safetyDriving 4 Safe Communities says that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping children rear-facing until 2 years old.
Turning a child from a rear-facing restraint to a forward-facing restraint too soon is a common safety mistake, says Driving 4 Safe Communities, a Lake Superior regional coalition of education, emergency medicine, engineering and enforcement professionals.
The coalition says that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping children rear-facing until 2 years old.
The public is invited to learn more about child passenger safety when safety technicians conduct a child seat clinic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the West Duluth Fire Station, 5830 Grand Ave. The clinic is free, and reservations are not required.
Retired former Duluth police lieutenant Peg Johnson is the coordinator of the Driving 4 Safe Communities Traffic Safety Coalition.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding about the requirements of the law and the necessity of safety,” Johnson said. “This is a great opportunity to talk with people who have expertise in the field about maximizing safety for your children. … We tend to spend a lot of effort, and rightfully so, on seat belt use so our thought was that this is another opportunity to remind people that it’s not just adults and that everyone in a vehicle should be properly restrained for the safety of all the occupants.”
The coalition said that more children die in motor vehicle crashes than from all childhood diseases combined. About 110 passengers younger than age 11 are killed or severely injured in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 1,800 passengers younger than age 11 receive minor to moderate injuries in Minnesota annually.
Seventy percent of the fatalities and severe injuries could be prevented with the proper use of a child restraint, and 50 percent could be prevented with proper safety belt use.
Local law enforcement has committed to an increased seat belt and child seat restraint campaign with increased enforcement from May 20 through June 2. The coalition said the theme of the enhanced enforcement is to buckle up “Every seat. Every time.”
Other common child passenger safety mistakes, according to the coalition:
According to its mission statement, Driving 4 Safe Communities’ goal is to move Carlton and southern St. Louis counties toward zero deaths on our roads. Members from a variety of agencies participate in activities to improve traffic safety in the region and use their expertise to “tackle the top driver behavior issues of impairment, distracted driving, unbelted occupants and speed.”
Driving 4 Safe Communities received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety, and is part of a group of coalitions statewide that assist local communities in attempting to create a safe culture on the highways.