Grandparents are spending more time with their grandkids either as a caregiver or at leisure, which oftentimes means more time in the car. According to a AAA Chicago survey conducted of Illinois grandparents with grandchildren under 8, nearly 60 percent of respondents drive with their grandchildren regularly. While the majority of grandparents were mindful about using safety seats, nearly 15 percent of grandparents only occasionally or never buckle their children up in safety seats.
Furthermore, when asked at what age they feel their grandchildren are safe to ride with only a lap and shoulder belt, half of respondents either didn’t know or cited ages much younger than the law allows.
The survey also revealed that while 60 percent of grandparents surveyed admit to installing the safety seats for their grandchildren themselves, only 37 percent has ever had their seats checked by a certified technician to see if it was being used and installed correctly.
“Grandparents are increasingly present in their grandchildren’s lives either serving as caregivers or just driving them to the zoo. Oftentimes this means they’re spending more time in the car with them,” said Brad Roeber, Regional President of AAA Chicago. “AAA in partnership with IDOT and the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office wants to make sure we’re reaching grandparents with the information and education to help them properly buckle up their most precious passengers.”
“Our children and grandchildren depend on us to keep them safe and secure,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “IDOT works diligently each day to further improve our effective child passenger program and, most importantly, to help ensure our loved ones travel safely on state roadways.”
“Since one of the leading causes of death and injury for children is automobile crashes, parents should make sure that everyone who cares for their children are transporting them properly,” said Secretary White. “Three out of four child safety seats are improperly installed. Many grandparents are caregivers and this year’s Child Passenger Safety Week focuses on encouraging them and others to get seats checked to ensure that little ones are properly secured,” White said.
AAA now advises parents of infants and young toddlers to secure their children in rear-facing child safety seats for as long as possible, maxing out the upper weight or height limits of the car seat. Researchers indicate that toddlers are 75 percent less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash when they ride in a rear-facing car seat up to their second birthday. Moreover, children should be in a booster seat until 8 or older unless they are 4’9” tall. Four out of five children age 6 to 8 who were killed in automobile crashes in 2009 were either improperly restrained or not belted at all, according to a secondary analysis of FARS crash data conducted by AAA.
To send these messages to grandparents and caregivers, AAA, IDOT and the Illinois Secretary of State’s office will host Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 22nd as part of the National Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Week, Sept. 16-22. There will be 80 seat check events held statewide where grandparents and parents can go to get their child seats checked for free by a trained child seat technician. To find seat check locations throughout the state, visit www.buckleupillinois.org.
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AAA Chicago is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.5 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada. Its mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.