Christmas is almost here, and families will be traveling by car or plane to visit with friends and relatives. This is an appropriate time to stop and think about having your child in the proper car seat before planning your trip. Although parents always want to protect their children, studies show that nationally, 3 out of 4 car seats are not used correctly.

For a car seat to best protect your child, it must be the right seat for your child’s age, weight, height and developmental stage, and must fit properly in your vehicle while being installed correctly and securely.

Children are at greater risk than adults in a vehicle crash. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children 14 and under. Safety belts and car seats are the single most effective tool in reducing these deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, in 2015 alone, less than half of the children killed in vehicle crashes in Texas were known to be restrained.

That’s why the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Passenger Safety Project and Bowie County Extension Agent, Cherrie Curtis, is urging all parents and caregivers to secure children properly in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats in the back seat of your vehicle — which is the most effective thing you can do to protect them in the event of a crash. In fact, in motor vehicle crashes, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Get a free inspection by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to make sure you are using the child safety seat correctly. To locate a technician in Texas, visit:buckleup.tamu.edu. Technicians can provide hands-on advice and instruction.

If you are traveling by plane, it is always safest to purchase a separate seat for your child, and bring an FAA-approved car seat. Most car seats, except for booster seats, are approved for use on an airplane. Turbulence is the greatest danger for a child on an airplane trip, and a properly installed car seat can protect your child from injuries due to being thrown around in the plane. Traveling with your car seat will also ensure that you will have it ready for your use when you arrive at your destination.