News

Car crashes remain a leading cause of death for kids

September 21, 2021 - Statewide - CDOT partners with hospitals in child passenger safety education blitz
A Denver mother and her two kids were rear-ended in July 2020 by a dump truck going 35 mph. The kids were properly restrained and uninjured.
A Denver mother and her two kids were rear-ended in July 2020 by a dump truck going 35 mph. The kids were properly restrained and uninjured.

Read the Spanish version of this release.

Denver - According to national data, two kids under 13 were killed every day, on average, in car crashes in 2019. Sept. 19-25 is National Child Passenger Safety Week, and in response to such alarming statistics, Car Seats Colorado and the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) are working with HealthONE and UCHealth to educate health care workers as part of a community outreach effort. 

In Colorado from 2015 to 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 remained the third leading cause of preventable injury seen at Swedish Medical Center for individuals 0-14 years old
  • Of these kids, 83% were unrestrained, 75% required surgery and 60% were ejected from the vehicle at the time of the crash
  • These are, in almost all cases, preventable by proper car seat use

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 and to emphasize the importance of proper car seat, booster seat and seat belt 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, who are often the first contact with new parents, 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 in Englewood and other hospitals along the Front Range 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
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 these 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. 

Seat Check Saturday — Seat Safety Inspections

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. 

About Car Seats Colorado

Car Seats Colorado is composed of CSP, CDOT, local car seat technicians, law enforcement, emergency services and other professionals who are dedicated to implementing child passenger safety programs and encouraging parents to take the necessary steps to protect their children when in vehicles. Learn more about how to keep children safe in vehicles and download informational resources at CarSeatsColorado.com