Inside the Tollway
Since January 1, 2019, Illinois law has required children under age 2 years to ride in vehicles rear-facing, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall.
And, yet, Illinois State Police District 15 troopers are finding that many children aren’t properly secured in a rear-facing child safety seat, according to Trooper Duane Chappell.
“Many parents and caregivers still aren’t aware of this law,” said Chappell, the safety education officer for District 15. “In fact, we recommend keeping child seats rear-facing for as long as possible because it’s the safest way for children to ride. Rear-facing child safety seats protect a growing baby’s head, neck and back in a crash.”
Parents of infants aren’t alone in not knowing the proper way to install a child safety seat.
Even though it is well known that child safety seats save lives and significantly reduce injuries in the event of a crash, Illinois State Police find that more than 90 percent of child safety seats they inspect are improperly installed.
Some of the more common problems District 15 inspectors pinpoint include not only the child facing the wrong direction, but also too much slack in harness straps, not properly securing the car seat, improper child restraint for the child’s weight and the need for booster seats for older children.
Illinois law requires that all children under age 8 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system when riding in a vehicle with family or other caregivers. For young children, a booster seat is the most effective way to position a safety belt properly on the child's body. Until age 8, most children have not developed strong hip bones and their legs and bodies are too short for the adult safety belt to fit correctly without use of a booster seat.
Another challenge facing parents and caregivers these days is finding somewhere to get their child safety seat inspected and installed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This week, parents are in luck.
During Child Passenger Safety Week (September 19-25) and National Seat Check Saturday, Illinois State Police certified safety seat technicians will be participating in child passenger safety events throughout the region.
Chappell said he plans to be at the event with the Gurnee Police Department on Saturday, September 25, while other District 15 technicians are being asked to staff more than 24 other events throughout the region to inspect child safety seats and help parents and caregivers with proper installation.
Visit the Buckle Up Illinois website to find local car seat inspection stations.
While it’s best to get child seats inspected by a certified technician, the Illinois State Police provides parents of infants with some tips on how to properly install a rear-facing seat here.
Beyond this week, parents and caregivers can call District 15 to schedule a car seat inspection by calling 630-241-6800 ext. 5009.