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Sheriff Waguespack reminds parents of importance of child passenger safety.

With the recent increase in vehicle accidents and fatalities in Assumption Parish, Sheriff Waguespack wants to remind everyone of the importance of wearing seatbelts and using proper restraint systems for children. In 2013, there were over 160 injuries as a result of crashes with 5 fatalities. So far in 2014, we have had over 130 injuries as a result of crashes with 10 fatalities, several being children. "That’s the reason we want to call parents’ and care givers’ attention to the very important subject of child passenger safety.”

As many as 7500 lives have been saved by the proper use of child restraints during the last 20 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, motor vehicle crashes still remain the number one killer of children ages 4 to 14 in America. Why? Well, all too often it is the improper use, or non use, of child safety seats and booster seats.

While 98 percent of America’s infants and 93 percent of children ages 1 to 3 are regularly restrained, not enough children ages 4 through 7 are restrained properly for their size and age. Only 10 to 20 percent of children ages 4 through 7 who should be using booster seats to protect them are actually in them. But children ages 4 to 8 who are placed in booster seats are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than children who are restrained only by a seat belt, according to a study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

"As children grow, how they need to be secured in a car, truck, van or SUV changes,” Sheriff Waguespack said. "Moreover, when you’re an expectant mother, it’s important to always wear your seat belt to protect you and your unborn child. Wear the lap belt across your hips and below your stomach with the shoulder belt across your chest. Once your child is born, be a role model and continue to buckle up every trip, every time. No exceptions.”

Sheriff Waguespack joins with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and advises parents and care givers to remember and follow the 4 Steps for Kids to achieve the maximum in child passenger safety:

! For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats as long as possible up to the weight and height limit of that particular seat. Infants must be kept rear-facing until they reach their first birthday AND at least 20 pounds.

! When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around 40 pounds).

! Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and shoulder belt fits across the chest.

! When children outgrow their booster seats, they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly.

Since January 2004, Louisiana law requires children ages four to six and at least 40 to 60 pounds to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat (backless or high backed). Children at least 6 years old or at least 60 pounds must ride using the vehicle lap-shoulder belts or belt-positioning booster seat.

Sheriff Waguespack concluded, "What better way to show you love your children than to make sure they are secured properly in child safety seats. Make it the law in your car. It might save your children’s lives.”


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