Buckle Up Program

Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each day approximately 3 children were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2016.

Buckle Up Program

The Buckle Up Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Program strives to reduce the number of motor vehicle related injuries and fatalities among children in Chicago through community education and behavior change. Through monthly car seat workshops and car seat inspection stations as well as a network of over 15 community partners, the Buckle Up Program provides car seat education, car seat installation assistance, and low-cost car seats to at-risk families.

Annually, the Buckle Up Program distributes over 1,000 free or reduced-cost car seats and teaches over 50 community workshops.

Community Workshops

These free one-hour classes taught by nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians help parents and caregivers select the proper child safety seat for their child and learn the basics of proper car seat installation. Parents or caregivers with an Illinois Medical Card who register in advance can purchase reduced cost car seats and booster seats. For full class details and to register, please call Mauricio Garcia at 312.227.7081 or email garciam@luriechildrens.org.

Inspection Stations

At these free 30-minute appointments, nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians work one-on-one with families to provide personalized instruction on how to properly use their child’s car seat. For full details and to schedule an inspection appointment, please call Mauricio Garcia at 312-227-7081 or email garciam@luriechildrens.org.

Don’t Leap Too Soon, Take Your Car Seat to the Limit

Illinois law requires any child under the age of 2 years to be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system and any child under the age of 8 years to be properly secured in an appropriate child safety restraint system.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat, as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. When infants outgrow their rear-facing–only seat, a convertible seat installed rear facing is needed. Most convertible seats have limits that will permit a child to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.

As of January 1, 2019, the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires any child under the age of 2 years to be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall.

Car seats shells are designed to absorb crash forces. Turning a child forward-facing too soon increases the likelihood of injury to their head, neck and spine.

Children who are at least 2 years old and 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.

With every seat graduation, children lose a level of protection. The booster seat helps an adult seat belt fit a child. Children should outgrow the height and weight limits of their forward-facing harness car seat before graduating to a booster seat.

Children should continue using a booster seat until they are ready for the vehicle seat belt: once they are 4’9” and can sit correctly with the lap belt crossing their hips and the shoulder belt crossing their chest. The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires that any child under the age of 8 years be properly secured in an appropriate child safety restraint system.

Children should ride in the back seat at least through age 12 and should always wear a seat belt.

Additional Tips

  • Always register your safety seat with the manufacturer so you can be notified of recalls.
  • Do not use a safety seat that is more than six years old or past the expiration date stamped on the seat.
  • NHTSA recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
  • A used safety seat may not be safe unless you know the history of the seat and all labels, parts and instructions are present.
  • Bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, can compress in a crash and leave the straps too loose to restrain your child, leading to increased risk of injury. Ideally, dress your baby in thinner layers and wrap a coat or blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps if needed.

Additional Resources

For more child passenger safety tips and recommendations, please visit the following sites:

AAA
Safeseats4kids.aaa.com

American Academy of Pediatrics
HealthyChildren.org

Illinois Department of Transportation
BuckleUpIllinois.org

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA.gov

Office of the Illinois Secretary of State
CyberDriveIllinois.com

Safe Kids Worldwide
SafeKids.org