Highway Risks for Children Decrease, Though Still Need for Improvement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that fewer children are dying in car accidents in the U.S., however there is still room for major improvements on the road. The good news: between 2002 and 2011 the number of children 12 and under dying in car accidents fell by 43%. The bad news: car accidents are still a leading cause of death for children in the U.S. Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm take a closer look at the statistics and what we can do to help.

The most significant factor contributing to adolescent death on American roadways is lack of proper seatbelt and restraint usage. In 2011, for example, one in three children who died in car accidents were not properly restrained in a car seat, booster seat, or using a seatbelt. For black and Hispanic children, nearly half of all fatalities were not buckled at the time of the crash.

Child restraint laws vary state to state, and surprisingly, very few states (Tennessee and Wyoming) require car or booster seats to be used by kids 8 and younger. This puts thousands of children at risk on the roads because they are not buckled up, and many factors contribute to this.

According to the CDC’s findings, older children (aged 8-12) are less likely to buckle up than younger kids and infants. Most states legally require children to be restrained in a car or booster seat until age seven, however there are a handful that only require the practice until aged five or even younger. It is no surprise, then, to know that in these states with minimal child restraint laws, deaths and serious injuries are higher.

Among the five states that increased the age requirement to seven or eight years old for booster/car seats, rates of deaths and serious injures decreased by 17%. That is a substantial amount, particularly when considering the severity of what we’re discussing. This is not simple damage to property or heightened insurance rates. Children’s lives are at stake.

Using the correct car or booster seat for your child can make all the difference. There is a graphic for parents and caregivers on the CDC’s website, located here, which details the age, height, and weight stipulations for each type of seat restraint. Parents should always use the car/booster seat manual before installing the seat. Too many children are seriously hurt and killed because the car seat they were in was not fastened all the way or the child was the improper weight or height.

Other recommendations for parents include:

  • Buckling all children aged 12 and under in the back seat
  • Using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts, during every trip no matter how short
  • Keep up-to-date on how to keep children safe on the road, including how to use each type of booster and car seat

Although we are encouraged by the improvements over the past ten years, there is still much work to be done. It is important for state and community governments to consider restraint laws for all children aged 8 and under or until at least 57 inches tall. 57 inches is the minimum recommended height for proper seat belt fit.

Our team of auto accident attorneys will continue to report on new statistics and news on this issue. If you or your child was seriously injured in an auto accident, contact our firm immediately. We can answer any questions you may have about your legal options and will deal with insurance companies and other parties so you can focus on healing.

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