Four out of five parents support a booster seat law but only 30 per cent use booster seats, says Safe Kids Canada

Almost 2 million Canadian children are at risk of severe injury by not using booster seats

TORONTO, May 11 /CNW/ - A new review of child passenger safety research in Canada shows that parental attitudes are not always put into practice when it comes to car seat safety. According to a new Safe Kids Canada/Leger Marketing poll unveiled today as part of the national Safe Kids Week campaign, most parents of children under the age of 10 feel that a booster seat is necessary until a child is physically able to use a seat belt on its own. In fact, four out of five households (78 per cent) support the idea of a booster seat law. Yet only 30 per cent of Canadian children who should be using booster seats are actually doing so, according to Transport Canada, despite their parents' belief in the importance of using one, and despite existing booster seat laws in the majority of Canadian provinces. 

This translates into a startling 1.8 million Canadian children who are put at risk of severe injury every time they ride in a vehicle because they are using a seat belt too early in their development. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Canadian children under the age of 14.  According to Transport Canada, each year a staggering 3,500 are injured while on average another 61 children are killed - the equivalent of two elementary school classrooms. But when children are placed in car and booster seats, they are well protected and less likely to be severely injured.

"Parents need to know that although seatbelts are an effective safety device, they are designed for adult bodies and not young children" says Pamela Fuselli, Executive Director, Safe Kids Canada, the national injury program of The Hospital for Sick Children. "The solution is simple - if your child has outgrown their forward-facing car seat and is under four feet nine inches tall or 145 centimetres, put them in a booster seat. It could save their life."

A booster seat reduces the risk of injury by 60 per cent. Children need to ride in booster seats from the time they outgrow their forward-facing car seats until they are big enough to use a seat belt by itself. When a child is too small for a seat belt, it cuts across his or her neck and rides up on the abdomen, which can cause life-threatening injuries to the neck, spine and internal organs if the car is in a crash. A booster seat better protects a child by positioning the seat belt away from the neck and under the abdominal area.

Give your kid a boost
How and when do you use a booster seat? Here are four tips to guide parents:

  • Your child is ready for a booster seat when they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat, around the age of four or five, and are less than four feet nine inches tall.
  • A booster seat lifts a child up so that the seat belt fits correctly. Make sure to secure both the lap and the shoulder belt properly so that it can hold your child and the booster seat in place during a crash or sudden stop.
  • There are two different types of booster seats that you can use in Canada: a high back booster seat, which provides head and neck protection in cars without head restraints and a no back booster, which is used in cars that have adjustable head restraints.
  • Your child may be ready for a seat belt when he or she is at least four feet nine inches, around the time your child reaches age nine, but often older.

Make it the law
Currently Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not have mandatory booster seat legislation for children under four feet nine inches (146 cm) tall.

Safe Kids Canada believes there should be a harmonized approach to booster seat legislation for all Canadian children. Safe Kids Canada is advocating for booster seat legislation that would apply to all children under four feet nine inches (146 cm) in height regardless of where they reside in Canada.

Parental attitudes don't translate into practice
According to the Safe Kids Canada/Leger Marketing survey, the majority of Canadian parents (86 per cent) know that height and weight are the key indicators to discontinue use of a car or booster seat and find car seats (87 per cent) and booster seats (85 per cent) easy to use in their vehicle. Yet only 30 per cent of parents are using booster seats for their children, according to Transport Canada. Some parents (10 per cent) still trust the gauge of looking at how big their child seems to be sitting a forward-facing car seat or booster seat and 10 per cent of parents mistakenly believe that it is safe for their children to use only a seat belt if they can see out of the passenger window.

Safe Kids Week
Today marks the launch of the 2011 Safe Kids Week - Give your kid a boost! - which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Inc., with community grants supported by the Honda Canada Foundation. Across Canada, Safe Kids Canada partners are conducting Give your kid a boost! events from May 30 to June 5, educating families on child passenger safety and asking parents to use booster seats on every ride.

Spokespeople across Canada
Safe Kids Canada has local expert spokespeople in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver who are available for interviews.

About Safe Kids Canada
Safe Kids Canada's mission is to lead and inspire a culture of safety across the country in order to reduce unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death among children and youth in Canada.  As a national leader, Safe Kids Canada uses a collaborative and innovative approach to develop partnerships, conduct research, raise awareness and advocate in order to prevent serious injuries among children, youth and their families. Our vision is Fewer Injuries. Healthier Children.  A Safer Canada.  Safe Kids Canada is the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. To learn more about Safe Kids Canada and child safety, visit www.safekidscanada.ca.

About Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor of Safe Kids in North America (Canada, U.S., and Puerto Rico), and in 17 other countries around the world. In Canada, Johnson & Johnson Inc. also sponsors Safe Kids Week, Safe Kids Canada's largest annual public awareness program designed to help reduce the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries, the leading cause of death and disability of Canadian children. As part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, the employees of Johnson & Johnson Inc. in Canada are united and inspired by caring for the world, one person at a time. Together with our partners in health care we touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. Johnson & Johnson has more than 250 operating companies in 57 countries around the world, employing 115,500 people and selling products in more than 175 countries. Johnson & Johnson worldwide headquarters is in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.  Johnson & Johnson Inc. Canadian head office is located in Markham, Ontario.

B-roll is available on Wednesday, May 11:

Time of feed: 10:00 - 10:30 and again at 14:00 - 14:30 Eastern

Coordinates: Anik F2C/3B Download Frequ: 3820MHz V Audio subcarriers 6.8 left, 6.2 right

For assistance with the feed call: 1-800-565-1471

Leger Marketing surveyed 1,029 adult Canadians aged 18 and over with children under the age of 10.  The national online survey was conducted between December 2 to December 9, 2010 with a confidence level of +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.


SOURCE Safe Kids Canada

For further information:

To arrange interviews with safety and medical experts contact:

Toni Tiemens      Lisa Lipkin
S.W.A.T. Communications     Manager, Communications & Marketing
905-895-1786       Safe Kids Canada
toni.tiemens@sympatico.ca     416-843-1190 (cell)
  416-813-6164 (office)
  lisa.lipkin@sickkids.ca

 

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