The Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law requires that all children sit in a federally approved car seat or booster, which must be properly fastened and secured, until they are 8 years old or over 57 inches tall. It is recommended that children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat.
All infants and toddlers should be in rear-facing car seats until they reach the age of 2 years old, or the weight and height limit issued by the manufacturer. Toddlers and preschoolers should be placed in convertible and forward-facing seats equipped with a harness. Once school-aged children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should sit in a booster until they are old enough to wear a seat belt.
“It is vital that parents and guardians are taking the time to properly install child safety seats,” Chief Rosa said. “The safest place for children while in the car is in the backseat, but only if those seats are correctly installed and children are properly secured.”
The Billerica Police Traffic Safety Unit is comprised of four officers who are all trained as Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPS) and have completed The National CPS Certification Training Program. Currently, child seat installations are by appointment only based on the availability of technicians. Participants are encouraged to call Sgt. Glen Magnan in the Traffic Safety Unit at 978-215-9694 to schedule appointments.
Prior to a scheduled appointment, participants must do the following:
• Bring a current copy of the child safety seat manual and vehicle owners manual to the appointment
• Attempt to install the child seat according to instructions in the manual
• Clean and clear vehicle of any debris that would inhibit the proper installation of a child seat
• Have accurate and current heights and weights of the child whom the seat will be installed for, it is preferred if the child is present.
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, 75 percent of child safety seats are installed incorrectly, and motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death and injury for all children. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 638 children 12 years old and younger were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2013, and that more than 127,250 were injured.
Properly securing your child in an age and size appropriate car seat greatly lowers the risk of serious and fatal injuries. The CDC reports that:
• Car seats reduce the risk of death to infants by 71 percent, and to toddlers between ages 1 to 4 by 54 percent.
• Booster seats decrease the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children 4 to 8 years old when compared with solely seat belt use.
For more information on child car seat safety or to find a checkup event, visit www.mass.gov/childsafetyseats.