Observe Child Passenger Safety Week

As personal injury lawyers, we see too many tragic consequences because of car accidents.  One of the most painful cases we see are those involving injured children.  Nothing is more tragic to a parent than losing a child.  We urge all parents, nannies, and caregivers to learn how to protect children from car accident injuries during Child Passenger Safety Week which is taking place now from September 23 to September 29, 2018.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the United States. A CDC study found that 35% of car crash deaths of passengers younger than 13 involved children who were not secured by a safety harness or a car seat.

Seatbelts and Responsible Parenting

Children often complain that they don’t want to be restrained in a seat, but seatbelts save lives.  Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death or serious injury by about half.

Parents who decide not to wear a seatbelt are risking their own lives. Risking the lives of their children by allowing them to remain unbelted is simply irresponsible. The CDC reports that 40% of parents driving a car in which an unbelted child suffered a fatal injury were themselves unbelted.

We urge all parents to buckle up their children. Since children model their parents’ behavior, it is important for children to see their parents wearing a seatbelt. Parents should not expect their children to keep a seatbelt fastened when parents are not wearing one.

Car Seats and Responsible Parenting

Some deaths can be prevented by the effective use of car seats. Statistics reveal that car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for children who are younger than age 1 and by 54% for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Placing a child between the ages of 4 to 8 in a booster seat reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% when compared with seat belt use alone.

Unfortunately, too many parents forego the use of a car seat, fail to choose a seat that is appropriate for their child, or fail to install the car seat correctly. Simply placing a child into a car seat and positioning the seat next to the driver will not protect a child in an accident. Responsible parents need to choose the right seat and follow instructions for its use, even if their children would prefer to sit next to the parent without being restrained.

Choosing and Using a Car Seat

Here are some important safety tips to consider when choosing a car seat:

  • Rear-facing car seats should be used from birth until children reach the maximum size that the seat will accommodate. Most children reach that size between the ages of 2 and 4. The manufacturer’s label will provide information that parents can follow to determine when their children have outgrown the seat.
  • Forward-facing car seats should be used after children outgrow a rear-facing seat. Most children will fit into a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5. Follow the manufacturer’s upper weight or height limit to decide when a child has outgrown a forward-facing seat.
  • Booster seats should be used after a child outgrows a forward-facing seat until the child is tall enough to wear a seatbelt properly. Most children need to use a booster seat until they reach the height of 4 feet 9 inches.

Car seats and booster seats should always be installed in the back seat. The safest place to position a car seat or a booster seat is in the middle of the back seat. That positioning provides additional protection against side-impact (“T-bone”) collisions.

Placing a car seat in the front seat places the child at risk if an airbag deploys in an accident. Airbags can cause serious injury or death if they strike a small child.

Children can be allowed to ride in the front seat when they can wear a seatbelt without using a booster seat. A seatbelt fits properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs rather than the stomach, and the shoulder belt lays across the chest rather than the neck.

Get Advice from a Professional

On Saturday, September 29, 2018, car seat events will be held at locations across the country to promote child safety. Certified child passenger safety technicians will be available to offer safety tips and car seat installation instructions.

We urge all parents and caregivers to attend a car seat event, or to take other steps to learn about the correct use and installation of car and booster seats. You can find a list of events at the Safe Kids website.

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