How Effective are Car Seat Clinics?

By: Glady Reign

Recent studies found out that car seat clinics are successful in helping parents and caregivers properly restrain children in back seats. However, there is a need to exert more effort to reach underserved communities.

One of the recent studies about car seat clinics has been conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide and this research includes 29 states in February 2005. Based on the study, it was revealed that car seat clinics have efficiently persuaded parents and caregivers in promoting safety measures for children. According to Safe Kids, parents have successfully changed their behavior and retained their child passenger safety knowledge six weeks after receiving hands-on instruction. At the second checkup, researchers discovered an additional 45 percent seats installed by parents.

Child safety seats, if properly installed and used, could reduce the risk of injuries by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Also, injuries for children using belt-positioning booster seats are decreased by 59 percent. As a fact, over 70 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed. That aspect should be corrected to ensure maximum safety.

The study also found out that the checkups disproportionately reached highly educated parents or white parents as opposed to less educated or ethnically diverse families. "We need to do more to reach the communities that need our help the most," said Lorrie Walker, training and technical manager for Safe Kids Worldwide. "Safe Kids' network of more than 600 coalitions and chapters in the United States has the flexibility and skills to meet the needs of each community we serve."

Safe Kids are working to install more permanent inspection stations in economically disadvantaged areas to serve more people. The group's Buckle Up program is financed by several supporters and the largest so far is General Motors Corp. "Safe Kids has tools in place to help educate families of all backgrounds," said Bob Lange, GM's executive director of Structure and Safety Integration. "We need to keep working to reach high-risk groups of parents with communication and training to keep their children properly restrained every time on every trip."

Underrepresented in the latest study are families with older children. Those who participated in check up events ranges from ages four and under. Experts recommend that kids who have outgrown car seats ride on booster seats. This should be done until they are about four feet, nine inches tall and 80 to 100 pounds. Usually, children reach this height and weight when they are between the ages of eight and twelve.

"In the event of a crash, a belt-positioning booster seat and safety belt provide better protection for most tweens than the adult safety belt alone," Walker said. "Children in this age group are among the least likely to be in the correct restraint. We need to make booster seat use among tweens who need them just as automatic as it is for small children to ride in car seats."

The program turned out to be successful. It has taught parents to use child safety seats that meet federal standards. These guidelines reduced the number of inappropriate seats used at the second event, weeding out many secondhand seats that do not have a known history or seats that are more than six years old.

Car owners may be putting much of their attention to , Chevy rotors or Ford engines but one thing that they should not neglect is the efficiency of car seats for their children.

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