Illinois Launches National Child Passenger Safety Week

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm announce that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), along with several other partners recently joined efforts to launch the 2013 National Child Passenger Safety Week.

IDOT is partnering with the AAA, the Illinois Secretary of State, and the Illinois Head Start Association to launch the Safety Week, which will run September 15-21, 2013. Efforts focus on increasing public attention on how to properly secure children using car seats, booster seats, and standard seat belts. On Saturday, September 21 certified child passenger safety technicians will provide free advice and inspections to Illinois residents at 88 locations throughout the state.

During the 2012 National Child Passenger Safety Week, more than 52,800 children participated in the state Head Start program, which provides services to enhance children and family development. The Illinois Transportation Secretary went on record stating that every child in Illinois depends wholly on their parents or guardians for their safety and well-being. IDOT works to provide parents and guardians with the most up-to-date information on car seats and their proper usage.

In children under the age of 13, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death, killing about two children every day and injuring nearly 340 others while riding in cars, SUVs, vans and trucks. Although citizens are buckling up in record numbers in Illinois, data from IDOT shows that a staggering amount of car seats are being used incorrectly (about two of every five).

This Saturday, dubbed “Seat Check Saturday” by advocates, parents and families can stop in at any of the 88 event locations to make sure children are properly bucked up and car seats are certified. Regulations and standards concerning car seats and boosters are defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Among these guidelines include:

• Using seatbelts only for children over the age of eight and taller than four feet nine inches • Placing forward-facing car seats in the back seat after the child has reached age four and 40-65 pounds
• Always placing rear-facing seats in the back seat, from birth to two years • Placing booster seats in the back seat in children aged four to eight • Remembering that all children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat with seatbelts buckled
For listings of Car Seat Checks throughout Illinois, follow this link. Families in other states can find Car Seat Inspection Locations here.

We recently reported that federal motor vehicle safety standards may be changing in 2014, requiring that children over 65 pounds be secured using both seat belts and top tethers. The proposed rule change would amend the already-existing Anton’s Law, which requires all vehicles to have anchor points to secure car seats.

In 2007, a permanently disabled child successfully sued his parents for negligently installing his car seat and causing his disability. The boy was three and healthy at the time his parent’s car was sideswiped by another vehicle, causing it to roll several times and ejecting him from the car. Because his parents did not install the car seat correctly, a latch on it became unhooked during the collision, ejecting him through the rear window and causing permanent brain damage.

The boy is now a quadriplegic and requires 24-hour care. An investigation by the State Patrol into the accident determined that the car seat latch easily unhooked because there was a significant amount of dirt and debris, including coins, stuck in the latch. The family sued the car seat manufacturer, Century Products, which settled in an undisclosed amount.

Because of a confused state law, however, the boy and his grandmother were required to sue his parents, because they were the insurance policy holders, as well as Progressive to obtain the settlement money. The state Supreme Court ruled that this action was permitted based on the parent’s negligent installation and maintenance of the car seat, and the boy was awarded $100,000.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on car seat laws, updates, events, and mandates as they emerge. If you or your child was seriously injured in a car crash through the negligence of another driver or a defective auto or car seat part, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries.

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