Keeping your Child Safe in the Car

iStock_000010653068_FullDid you know that motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States? Many of these deaths could have been prevented.

Sitting your child and buckling them into an age and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat, plus using the seat belts, reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries. Take a look:

  • Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants by 71 percent and to toddlers (ages 1 to 4 years old) by 54 percent in passenger vehicles.
  • By using a booster seat, you can reduce the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4 to 8 years old when compared to seat belt usage alone.
  • For older children, seat belt usage reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately 50 percent.

Statistics show that in the United States in recent years, more than 650 children under the age of 12 years old died as occupants in motor vehicle accidents and more than 100,000 were injured. In a recent CDC study, it was found that more than 600,000 children ages infant to 12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time. Unbelievable!

Many laws require all children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, and most states permit children over a particular age, height or weight to use an adult safety belt. All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Guan, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria.

In addition, five states, including California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, have seat belt requirements for school buses.

Keep in mind that first offense fines for not complying with California’s child passenger safety laws vary from $10 to $500.

Using the correct car seat or booster seat can be a lifesaver. Make sure your child is always buckled in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight. Know the specific stages:

  • Birth up to age 2 – rear-facing car seat always in the back seat
  • Age 2 up to at least age 5 – forward-facing car seat always in the back seat
  • Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly – booster seat always in the back seat
  • Once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat – children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly

Other guidelines include:

  • Buckle all children under the age of 12 in the back seat because airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.
  • Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible because it is the safest place in the vehicle.
  • Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip – no matter how short the trip is. It only takes a second to be involved in an accident.

Of course, by you using your seat belt at all times, you are setting a good example for your children to follow down the road.

For more information, contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.


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