The most important task of a parent or caregiver is to keep their children safe. Part of that responsibility is ensuring children are safely buckled up in the correct and properly installed car seats for their ages and sizes, whether they are riding with you or another family member.

This choice could mean the difference between life, serious injury, or death for your children. Don’t think you know — know you know — that your children are safe and are in the right seats, and that they are being used correctly every time.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children 12 and younger. From 2012 to 2016, there were 3,268 children killed while riding in cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs. In 2016, fatalities among children 12 and under riding in passenger vehicles were up by 8 percent. We know that now — more than ever — is the time to make sure your child is in the right seat, buckled up, and is in the back seat 100 percent of the time if they are under 13.

That’s why events such as Child Passenger Safety Week, which being held next week, are so critical in helping parents and caregivers learn about proper car seat installation, and how to use car seats correctly.

No matter their age, your children rely on you to keep them safe. When traveling, the best ways to protect them are to place them in the right car seats for their ages and sizes, to install the seats correctly, and to ensure that the car seats fit properly in the back seat of your vehicle – every single time. Because the consequences of misused car seats can be disastrous, always take the time to read the car seat instructions and consult your vehicle manual.