Injury Prevention

Average # of car seat fitting stations per county

5.2Q4 2018

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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: February 2019

Author: Injury Prevention Program Team, Vermont Department of Health

More children and adolescents die from injuries and violence than all diseases combined, and injuries are a leading cause of disability. Every year, one in nine young people is injured seriously enough to require medical attention, and nearly 320,000 hospitalizations (1) occur due to these injuries. Injuries are a leading cause of medical spending for children and adolescents, a burden estimated at $4 billion (2) in annual healthcare costs for hospitalizations alone. Suffering a serious injury can have a major impact on a child’s ability to live to their full potential, often leading to a lifetime of special health care needs that change the life course of both the child and their family.

1 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), 2010.

2 Figure derived from 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cost estimates applied to 2012 hospitalization counts reported via National Electronic Injury Surveillance system (NEISS)

Research has shown that correctly using an appropriate child restraint or seat belt is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Lap and shoulder combination seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50% (NHTSA, 2001). For light-truck occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate-to-critical injury by 65% (NHTSA, 2009a). NHTSA estimates that correctly used child restraints are even more effective than seat belts in reducing fatalities. Child restraints reduce fatalities by 71% for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54% for children 1 to 4 years old in passenger cars. In light trucks, the fatality reductions are 58% for infants and 59% for children 1 to 4 years old (NHTSA, 1996). In addition, research conducted by the Partners for Child Passenger Safety Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that belt-positioning booster seats reduce the risk of injury to children 4 to 8 in crashes by 45% when compared to the effectiveness of seat belts alone (Arbogast, Jermakian, Kallan & Durbin, 2009).

Partners

Vermont Governor's Highway Safety program (GHSP)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Vermont EMS, Fire, law enforcement agencies

Vermont hospitals

Other community organizations

What Works

Evidence based strategies to increase safe child restraint use include:

  • Child safety seat distribution and education in which free or low-cost seats are distributed to parents
  • Community-wide information and enhanced enforcement campaigns that utilize mass media and high visibility enforcement strategies to convince parents to use child safety seats
  • Provide mobile fitting stations and car seat inspection stations to ensure that child safety seats are correctly installed
  • Proper installation and use of booster seats, including education on height and age recommendations and proper seat belt fit
  • Proper installation and use of child safety seats
  • Communications and outreach efforts focused on moving from child safety seat to booster seat to seat belt to reduce premature graduation of children ages 0-12 to restraints that are inappropriate for their height and weight
  • Safety seat education that is provided by physicians and other health care professionals in clinical settings
  • Increase the number of certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians
Action Plan

The Vermont Department of Health, with funding from the Vermont Governor's Highway Safety program, coordinates the state Child Passenger Safety program. The state program, BeSeatSmart, aims to increase and sustain safety seat and seat belt use forchildren 0–18. BeSeatSmart provides hands on help, advice, consultations, presentations, training, materials and support to residents of Vermont. BeSeatSmart provides best practice advice as given and sourced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Vermont Child Passenger program coordinates yearly training of over 100 nationally certified technicians, annual training of new technicians, creating and supporting fitting stations, holding open-to-the-public inspections, a telephone hot-line manned by a certified technician, a website, displays at public events, creation and distribution of educational materials, and distribution of low-cost car seats to children in need and at risk.

The program depends on the availability of certified child passenger safety technicians to man open to the public fitting stations that offer free car seat inspection and installation services. The program monitors access to fitting stations in communities across the state and works to decrease drive times to fitting stations by training new technicians in areas of need, assisting existing technicians to maintain their certification, and supporting organizations in becoming approved child passenger safety fitting stations. The program increased the percent of Vermont residents within a 30 minute drive time to a fitting station from 75.5% in 2013 to 85% in 2015.

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