New survey shows safety seat use down in Michigan

Michigan A survey from Wayne State University Transportation Group shows fewer children are riding in car seats and booster seats in Michigan. The observation survey found car seat usage was down nearly 2% from 2011, and booster seat use was down to 42.4% from 43.9% in 2011.

According to state police, the reason is likely due to cost.

"Some of the numbers may be down only for the fact of financial hardship," said Trooper Rob Herbstreith, the community trooper in Niles for the Michigan State Police.

And it's not just having the car seat that is important, state police say misuse is another common problem.

"Four out of five child restraint systems we check, there is some sort of misuse," said Trooper Herbstreith. "Whether it's the wrong size for the child, it's not installed properly or tightly enough, the harnesses aren't tight enough, or even something as simple as the harness retainer clip."

Regardless of cost or difficulty, child safety seats are the law for young children.

Infants are required to use a rear-facing car seat until they are age one or 20 pounds. Toddlers can move to forward-facing car seats. Once children under age 8 who have not met the 4'9'' height requirement or 40 pound weight limit can move to booster seats, also known as "convertible seats."

Children should remain in booster seats if their knees do not bend at the front edge of the back seat, if the lap belt rests on their stomach instead of waist, or if the shoulder strap is on their face or neck.

And Michigan State Police want to remind people that it's not only high speed crashes that can threaten a child's life.

"Just 20 miles per hour, a 40 pound child has the force of 800 pound weight," said Trooper Herbstreith. "The child's head will break before the wind sheild. It's sad to say it that way, but Newton's law of motion. something is going to keep moving until it hits something else"

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