When it comes to child safety, there’s a statistic traveling Ontario’s highways and byways that would surprise you. More than 70 percent of kids don’t use booster seat, resulting in an increased risk of injury in the event of collisions or sudden stops.
The purpose of booster seat is to “boost” your child up so the adult seat belt can be positioned properly on your child’s body. However, a lot of parents don’t know this.
The Kids Need a Boost campaign was created to increase the awareness of booster seat use. On Wednesday, an event was held at Rick Hansen Public School as part of this campaign.
Representatives from the London Police Service, Middlesex OPP, the London Fire Department, Middlesex EMS (Emergency Medical Services), London Health Science Center, and the Thames Valley School Board were there to talk to parents about the importance of booster seat use. Two booster seats were on exhibition for parents to observe and learn.
Besides, the campaign team prepared brochures in multiple languages including Arabic and Chinese.
“Standard seat belts are designed for adults and not kids; so while parents and caregivers may think their child is ready to ride in the car without a booster seat, they maybe exposing them to potential harm,” said Meagan Melling, Public Health Nurse with the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Healthy Communities and Injury Prevention Team.
In the Middlesex-London region, motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of unintentional injury and are the most common cause of death for children under the age of 14.
“We started the booster seat program in 2014 so we did an event back in 2014 to raise awareness, and just thought it was time to increase the awareness again as children are getting older and new parents are coming along and have to learn what the law and safest thing is for their kids,” said she.
She added that kids don’t have mature bone structure until they are 9 or 10 years old and the seat belt doesn’t fit them properly so in a car crash this equipment designed to protect them could actually hurt them.
Max Gomez, Media Relations Officer of Middlesex OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) attended the event.
“In Ontario, by legislation of the Highway Traffic Act, children need to use a booster seat when they are less than 80 lbs (36 kg), less than 4’9 (145 cm) or under the age of 8 years old, the fine could be up to 1000 dollars for failing to have your child in a booster seat,” said Gomez.
He added “officers always have discretion to lay the charge if the evidence is there, however, education and enforcement is the best rule of thumb.”
Mohammed Moussa, a father who is using booster seats for his two kids spoke highly about the Kids Needs a Boost campaign. He also said why a lot of parents are not aware of this topic.
“Old school, new school, old people don’t like to use booster seat because they grew up without it. Us, we grew up with it, that is the difference I think,” said the father.
He added “information is key, a lot of people just don’t care (about booster seat use), they don’t understand, they don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Melling indicated that not all parents were responsive and supportive during their campaign.
“We do get parents that are very appreciative and don’t actually know (about booster seat) and they thank us for the information, and there is parents don’t want the information and they don’t want to hear from us about it. We are there for the parents who are open and trying to increase the safety of their children,” said the Public Health Nurse.
She also said “we would like to reach everyone but even we can prevent one child from having an injury, being hospitalized or dying in a motor vehicle collision, that’s what I am happy with.”