Car crashes are a leading cause of death for kids

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DENVER — According to national data in 2019, two kids under age 13 were killed every single day on average in car crashes.

September 19 until September 25 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. Because of such alarming statistics, Car Seats Colorado and the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure are working with HealthONE and UCHealth to educate community health care workers. 

In Colorado between 2015 and 2019, 48 children under age 8 were killed in passenger vehicle crashes.

Swedish Medical Center also reports:

  • Over the past two years, motor vehicle crashes have stayed the third leading cause of preventable injury seen at the center for individuals 0-14 years old
  • Of these children, 83% were unrestrained, 75% required surgery and 60% were ejected from the vehicle at the time of the crash
  • These are preventable with proper car seat use, in nearly all cases

The Colorado Department of Transportation, DOTI and HealthONE held a press conference today to share the firsthand experiences of health care workers who have seen the consequences of improper car seat use.

“As a law enforcement officer out on the road, I’ve seen some horrible crashes,” said Trooper Tim Sutherland, Colorado State Patrol Child Passenger Safety program coordinator. “I’ve been amazed at how effective car seats can be when used correctly. Kids walking away without a scratch, that’s what we always hope for.” 

Nurses are a focal point of these efforts to better inform caregivers on the crucial and often misunderstood basics of car seat use. Car Seats Colorado and DOTI are coordinating with Swedish Medical Center and other hospitals to distribute thousands of lanyard badges to nurses, doctors, prevention workers and child safety advocates.

“When it comes to car and booster seats, there are endless variations and it can become overwhelming,” said Swedish Medical Center Injury Prevention coordinator Melanie Wuzzardo. “As a parent myself, I can relate to this. Having a car/booster seat fit check gives parents the confidence to use their car seat correctly every single time.”


(Swedish Medical Center doctors, nurses and staff received educational badges and expressed support in honor of Child Passenger Safety Week)

According to child passenger safety technicians, car/booster seats are commonly misused in the following ways:

  • The baby is too loose in the harness.
  • The chest clip isn’t in the correct location.
  • The car seat base is too loose.
  • The car seat incline is incorrect.

“Estimates range from 59% to nearly 84% of kids are improperly restrained while riding in a vehicle,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “These numbers are far too high, and we’re happy to be working with hundreds of Colorado health care workers and educators to better inform parents on the issue.”

The informational lanyard badges will help health care workers and parents learn: 

  • Age, height, weight, and physical development all play a role in proper car seat fit.
  • Installation can be more complicated than people think. Correct strap tension and placement are important; securing the seat to the car correctly is a must; and knowing whether or not your seat has been recalled is crucial. 
  • Read both your car seat manufacturer and car owner’s manual.
  • It’s free and highly recommended to have your seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. 

DOTI and HealthONE are offering a series of “pop-up” seat check fit stations this week. Caregivers can register here. Car seat checks are available statewide — you can find a car seat inspection location near you that will inspect your car seat for free. 

Colorado’s Child Passenger Safety Law is a primary enforcement, meaning the driver can be stopped and ticketed if an officer sees an unrestrained or improperly restrained child under age 16 in the vehicle. 

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