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Kids in Cars: Keep Them Buckled

Posted By David Hernandez || August 18, 2014


Young Child Looking Out a Car WindowAs years pass, and technology continues to improve, cars get safer for drivers and passengers. Seatbelts are sturdier and child safety seats are more secure and these safety instruments save lives — if they are used, and used properly.

Although the frequency of fatalities in car accidents has decreased in recent years, the numbers are still urprisingly high especially among children. According to an article from USA Today, more than 9,000 children 12 and younger died in car accidents from 2002 to 2011.

The worst part about that statistic is that many of those deaths could have been prevented. How? Well, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three of the children killed in cars in 2011 were not secure in child safety seats.

There are several factors that may explain why so many children aren’t properly secured: individual state laws, socioeconomic status, and education. None of these factors can be attributed as the cause of children’s death in car accidents, but researchers speculate on how each one contributes.

Previous research has proven that proper child restraints are the most effective way to prevent child deaths in car accidents, but very few states in the U.S. have given heed to that information. Only two states require a car or booster seat for kids through the age of 8.

This means that only 2 in 100 children live in a place that, by law, requires a car or booster seat during their most vulnerable formative years. Every state does have child restraint laws, but the issue is that the age covered varies.

If it is any proof children younger than 12 should have child restraints, “more than 650 children 12 and under were killed in crashes in 2011…that’s more than a dozen children every week.” Even when children seem old enough to get rid of the booster seat, they may still be at great risk.

What’s more unsettling is that 45% of African American children and 46% of Hispanic children killed were unbuckled, compared to 26% of white children. While there is no solid proof that socioeconomic status impacts how many children are properly buckled, past research has shown that it can play a role in whether a family owns a car seat or is educated on the benefits of having one past toddler age.

The CDC states that consistent child passenger restraint laws would prompt a greater number of parents, whatever their socioeconomic status, to properly fasten in their children through the right age. In a study analyzing the effect of such a law, car and booster seat use tripled and serious injury and death decreased 17%.

A third factor that would contribute greatly to the increase in use of child safety restraints is education. Sometimes, finding the right child seat for a child can be confusing and difficult, and installing the child seat properly comes with its own frustrations.

Educating parents on how to properly install and use child safety seats could save hundreds of young lives. Some community fire and police stations offer education sessions, and many have certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians to consult.

Knowing that the click of a buckle can save so many lives should be encouragement enough to share this information with someone you know. As a car accident lawyer in New York City, it would be a relief to know that more and more
children are secured safely out on the busy roads.

Photo Credit: Shayan (USA) via Compfightcc