Travelers rely on seat belts and airbags to prevent deadly car accident injuries. These restraints are rigorously tested on crash dummies to provide maximum stability and cushioning for adult drivers and passengers. But children who are too young for seat belts need special protection to save them from severe or fatal injuries in a crash.
Child Restraints Save Lives in Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), safety restraints are incredibly effective for saving the lives of children—from infants to teenagers. A 2003 study found that 443 infants and toddlers alone were saved from fatal injury by child safety seats and lap belts, a number that has increased steadily with each passing year. In 2014, an NHTSA report concluded that 34% of children 12 years old and younger who died in crashes were not restrained, suggesting that survival rates may be even higher if child restraints are used for every car trip.
Potentially Life-Saving Car Seat Safety Tips:
- Car seats. Car seats are the best way to protect infants and very young children, reducing crash injury and death risk for kids under one year old by over 70%. Children should be secured in a car seat with side wings (extensions to support a sleeping child's head) until they are at least four years old.
- Booster seats. When combined with seat belt use, booster seats can cut injury risks in half for children between the ages of four and eight. Injury rates decrease even further when a child in a booster seat is positioned in the middle seat instead of next to a window.
- Seat belts. For older children, seat belts are an effective way to cut injury rates in half. Any child whose feet can touch the floor should be secured by a lap belt. If a child sits in the front passenger seat, he should be secured by the lap and shoulder restraints, and the seat should be moved as far back from the dashboard as possible to prevent airbag injuries.
- Restraint assessments. Children often outgrow their car seats and restraints before the recommended age of use set by the manufacturer. Parents should check the age, height, and weight requirements for each child’s seat every six months to make sure the restraint is still effective. In addition, parents should ensure that car seats are correctly installed and inspect buckles and harnesses for signs of wear.
- Seating arrangements. Children should sit in the back seat until they are at least 14 years old, if possible. If one child is riding in the back seat, place him in the middle seat and ensure that the seat belt is working properly. Make sure that rear-facing baby seats and forward-facing child seats have been installed correctly, and never put a rear-facing baby carrier in the front passenger seat.
- Parent training. Parents and older sibling should stress to young children the importance of buckling up every time they ride in a car and staying buckled for the whole ride. Parents should also emphasize to children the importance of sitting up straight and staying seated while the car is moving.
- Driver accountability. Children learn by seeing what others do. Not only should you tell your children about the importance of restraints, you should buckle up, too—and instruct any carpool parents or teen drivers to do the same.
Car accident injuries can have a significant impact on a child’s developing brain and body. If your child has been injured in a crash as a result of someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call us today, or use our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.