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According to Safe Kids Worldwide, correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. The same organization, however, notes that Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly.

Sunday marked the beginning of Child Passenger Safety Week. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every 34 seconds one child, under age 13, is involved in a crash.

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During the 5-year period from 2008 to 2012, the NHTSA says, more than 3,390 children were killed in car crashes. In addition, an estimated 613,000 children were injured. In 2012 alone, 121,000 children under age 13 were injured as passengers in car crashes.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for kids ages one through 12. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of the children who died in auto accidents in 2011 were unrestrained.

According to the NHTSA, only 46 percent of children ages 4 to 7 were properly restrained in booster seats in 2013.

On its website, Safe Kids has information for parents about child safety seats. The organization also sponsors inspections where certified technicians help ensure that car seats are properly installed. Safe Kids Carroll County can also help parents learn about and understand Maryland laws concerning properly restraining children in vehicles.

Incorrectly installed car seats are among the biggest problems, but as children grow the way that they are restrained in a vehicle also needs to change. Another big concern is that while safety experts say children age 13 or under should always ride in the back of a vehicle, a third of the children in the 8-14 age group killed in crashes from 2008-2012 were in the front seat, according to the NHTSA.

Parents have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their children in vehicles. This includes having good quality safety seats, installing them correctly and ensuring that they are being used in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Far too many children are injured or killed each year because they are not properly restrained in vehicles. This week, as groups focus on heightening awareness, make it a point to check and ensure the safety of your children in your vehicle.

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