In the last month, the Buellton office of the California Highway Patrol has handled 53 collisions. Officers say two of the most severe crashes involved children who were not restrained in car seats or seatbelts.
Officer Michael Griffith told KSBY, “So in the last several months, we've noticed I would say triple the amount of collisions involving unrestrained children. And then also just our officers here in this area, when they're making traffic enforcement stops, they're noticing that a lot of parents aren't restraining their kids.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency recommends following manufacturer instructions on car seats. If involved in a moderate to severe crash, families should not continue to use that same car seat.
Officer Joseph Ligon with Buellton CHP is also a Car Seat Technician, “So typical mistakes for car seat installation that you can see are that they are installed in an improper seat. When you have a convertible seat which can be going from rear-facing to forward-facing, sometimes they'll use the wrong belt path.”
CHP recommends making sure the car seat cannot move more than an inch once it is installed and that there is enough space between it and the seat in front so in the event of a collision, the seat can ride down.
California law requires children under the age of two years old to be in a rear-facing car seat unless they weigh 40 pounds or more and are at least 40" tall.
After that, they can face forward but must be restrained in an appropriate car seat or booster until they are eight years old or 4'9" tall.
“Once you turn them around and have them forward facing, the child is going to experience the same thing any adult would in an auto accident where they could potentially get whiplash and that can cause great strain on the neck and back,” added Ligon.
Anyone 16 years or older must abide by California's mandatory seatbelt law. People should also be aware of the car seat's expiration date.