MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's Child Passenger Safety Week, a good time to look into making sure you are taking the right steps to keep your kids safe, because car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages one to 13.
A majority of parents admitted in a new study they've bent the rules when driving, letting kids ride without seat belts or without using a car seat or booster seat. Most didn't know the rules when it comes to letting kids out of the booster seat.
We're taught to always wear a seatbelt, but seat belts don't fit children properly until they reach 4-feet-nine-inches-tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. Seven out of 10 parents surveyed by SafeKids.org didn't know that, and nine out of ten say they moved kids from a booster seat to just a seat belt before their kid was big enough.
You might not think it's a big deal; however, although seat belts are safer than nothing at all, kids who are too small to wear seatbelts alone are at risk of severe abdominal, head and spinal injuries if you crash. Booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent compared to seatbelts alone.
"But so many people think, you know, as soon as they're about 4 foot, and maybe 50 pounds, they don't need to be in a car seat anymore, or booster seat," says Karen Eiler, a mother and a driver. "And they just let them ride in the back seat, front seat, or whatever. And it's sad, you know, with all the car accidents."
The Ad Council has partnered with the US Department of Transportation for Child Passenger Safety Week.
They've launched a campaign to get you to commit to ensuring child passengers always ride in the right car seats for their age and size.
You can tweet and post on most social media sites with the hashtag #MyWhy.
They want you to show and say WHY you choose to drive safely.
According to Safe Kids, South Carolina has the seventh-highest crash fatality rate for children ages 4 to 8.
It's one of the least-strict states for booster seat laws – allowing children to use a seat belt alone at age 5.
That's why it's up to parents to take safety into their own hands.
There is a graph that will tell parents whether a child is ready to leave the rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing one, a booster seat or whether it's safe for the child to use just a seatbelt. That information can be found here:http://www.safercar.gov/parents/Right-Car-Seat-Age-Size.htm.