USVI - The month of September is nationally designated as Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Month. During this time, the VI Police Department and the VI Office of Highway Safety join law enforcement agencies, public health departments and
community organizations across the nation to raise awareness about the importance of consistently securing children in the correct car seat based on the child’s age, height, and weight.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages one to thirteen. In a local rear seat observational study conducted in 2021, 49% of children under age 12 were unrestrained,
and close to 27% rode improperly restrained - without appropriate child safety restraints. Unrestrained and improperly restrained children involved in crashes become projectiles risking complete ejection from the car, which is almost always deadly.
Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians have been working with caregivers across the territory to provide car seat fitting advice and installation assistance to motorists with children. NHTSA reports that 46% of car seats used on the mainland are
improperly used. In the territory, this misuse rate is closer to 83%. These common errors contribute to injury risks for child crash victims. “There are two goals to be achieved here,” proposed VIPD Commissioner Ray A. Martinez.
“First, caregivers must become aware of and adhere to child passenger safety laws designed specifically to reduce life-threatening injuries for child crash victims. Second, prudent parents who use car seats must know that even the best seat
cannot keep a child safe if it is not installed correctly.” Commissioner Martinez continued, “There are experts in our community who can ensure that your child is riding safely. Pleased have a certified CPS Technician check your car seats
Child passenger safety initiatives during the month of September aim to educate and empower parents and caregivers on strategies to keep children riding safely. Virgin Islands law mandates the following for child passengers:
Children weighing less than 20 pounds are required to be in a rear-facing car seat Passengers 1 to 5 years of age and at least 40 lbs. must use an appropriate forward-facing child restraint system.
Children who have outgrown a forward-facing seat up to 8 years of age or up to 4 ft. 9 in. tall must be secured in a booster seat.
All children under the age of 14 are required to sit appropriately restrained in the back seat. Although costly fines result from noncompliance with child passenger safety laws, the cost of regret is unaffordable. Buckle up, VI! Every trip. Everyone.
For more information on Child Passenger Safety Month or to learn ways to get involved in traffic safety, contact the Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety through Director O’Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org or Occupant Protection Planner/Coordinator Denise Gomes at email@example.com. You may also contact the office via telephone at (340) 772-3025 or (340) 473-7383.