WEST VIRGINIA (WBOY) – Sept. 18 to Sept. 24 is designated as Child Passenger Safety Week across the nation. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has also proclaimed the awareness week to be acknowledged in West Virginia as well.

The purpose of the week is to educate people on using proper car and booster seats for children as well as seat belts to best protect any child they’re driving with.

“Life is busy for many West Virginia families. Making sure our most precious resource—our children—are as safe as can be when they’re passengers in a vehicle is so important. That’s why I encourage you to make time this week to double and triple check your child’s car seat or booster seat,” said Gov. Justice in a press release.

Age-groupType of SeatGeneral Guidelines
Infants and toddlersRear-facing-only
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will allow children to ride rear facing for 2 years or more.
Toddlers and preschoolersForward facing convertible
Forward-facing with harness
Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
School-aged childrenBoosterAll children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years of age. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
Older childrenSeat beltsWhen children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
From Healthy Children

According to the press release, nearly half of car seats are misused. The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is glad to have Gov. Justice’s backing and support to promote the safety week.

“It’s really important to have the governor’s support on this,” GHSP Child Passenger Safety Program Coordinator Amy Boggs said. “It’s one thing to come from us, we like to consider ourselves the state experts on highway safety because that’s what we do, but it brings a lot more awareness and a lot more reach when we get support from the governor’s office.”

Ways you might be using your child’s car seat wrong:

1. Improper Seat Installation

Common mistakes include routing the seat belt through the wrong belt path, failing to use a top tether for a forward-facing car seat, installing a rear-facing infant seat in the front passenger seat, and using both the seat belt and the lower anchors at the same time. When properly installed, the car seat should move no more than one inch side to side, according to the Montana Department of Transportation.

2. Incorrect Chest Clip Position

Too low? Your child can be ejected in a crash. Too high? A neck injury can result. As a general rule of thumb, the clip should be in line with the child’s armpits.

3. It’s the Wrong Seat for Your Child

Consult the table above for general rules for choosing a car seat for your child.

4. It’s the Wrong Seat for Any Child

Car seats can go bad. Plastics become brittle. Parts become worn. Most seats expire six years after the date of manufacture. Typically you can find the expiration date printed on the seat or the owner’s manual. You can also call the manufacturer. If you register the seat with the manufacturer, you will also receive notice of any safety recalls.

Counties across West Virginia are taking part in the week and are offering technicians and fitting stations to be accessible for free. To find a fitting station near you, click here.