The numbers from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in children ages 0 to 13.
Nationwide, between 2013 and 2017, 3,313 children were killed. In 2017, more than 1/3 of the child passengers killed in crashes were not properly restrained.
But the Helena Police Department and the Montana Department of Transportation are working together to bring information to people about proper car seat and seat belt usage .
Montana offers resources to help parents at their 41 “ Permanent Inspection Stations ”, where technicians demonstrate how to properly install a car seat, dependent on the make and model, as well as make sure it's fitted appropriately for your child, based on their individual height and weight.
Each state has varying height and weight requirements.
“To reduce the death and injury rate in children, in Montana, we have federal grant money that we use to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of using car seats and having children properly restrained,” MDT Occupant Protection Program Planner Erin Root told MTN News.
“In my life, I am a mom of two, and so it's a very personal topic for me. And just being in this position and learning so much about car seats, it's eye opening,” Root continued.
“Four-out-of-five car seats are installed incorrectly, and there's some type of misuse. And I think back to that and I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunities to have a CPS technician check out my car seats. It takes half an hour and I would have had such peace of mind.”
Having your child properly secured is not only key to their safety, it’s also required by law. Drivers in violation will be faced with large fines.
“Montana state law says, that if your child is under six years old, and under 60 pounds, it's a primary offense if they aren't restrained in a child safety seat,” noted Scott Finnicum with the Helena Police Department.”
Helena Police Officer Andrew Barton, a School Resource Officer and car seat technician, shared one final tip Montana prepares for a drift into winter.
“The important thing to consider is how are you gonna dress your child prior to putting them into a car seat. What you don't want to do, is you don't want heavy, bulky, clothing, winter coats or anything like that, prior to putting them in.”
As a reminder, customers can trade in used car seats at the service desk in any participating Walmart store and receive a $30 Walmart gift card that can be used in a store or online to buy items for their baby.
Walmart is holding its first-ever car seat recycling event until Sept. 30 to help mark National Baby Safety Month.