To the editor:

My heart breaks to read of the two young girls critically injured in a vehicular accident last week. At this time our thoughts and prayers for their well-being should be at the forefront of our minds. Riding in a car is statistically the most dangerous thing a child does on a routine basis. A little bit of research, and the proper and consistent use of an appropriate car seat or booster, can greatly reduce the risks of this everyday threat. I encourage the Courier to run an article to raise public awareness, and I urge our local police departments to step up enforcement of established laws. I also ask your readers to refer to the following guidelines issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when considering how their most precious cargo is being transported:

Birth to 12 months and 20 lbs: Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.

1 to 3 years: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer.

4 to 7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer.

8 to 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there.

These are only the minimum requirements. For anyone interested in learning more, information can be found at the following sources:

• NHTSA's website http://www.safercar.gov/parents/CarSeats.htm

• Indiana State Government website http://www.in.gov/isp/files/Child_Passenger_Safety_Pamphlet.pdf

• Car-Seat.org (certified CPSTs offering advise on car seat selection, installation, and proper use) http://www.car-safety.org/

Stephanie Pierson

Hanover