Child Passenger Safety
Each year, personal injury attorneys receive auto accident cases. Sadly, some of these accidents involve children who were seriously injured or worse in a motor vehicle crash. It is imperative that people understand the importance of child passenger safety. Often, it is a mere lack of knowledge on the part of the parents or other drivers of the vehicles involved that leads to children being injured or losing their lives. Automobile crashes are the number one cause of death in children age 3 to 14. Preventive measures are very important and with this article, we share invaluable information for parents and their nannies or childcare staff that helps keep children safe.
Know your car seat
There are a lot of different brands and styles of car seats for children and they are not all alike. Some perform better than others and have more safety features. If you already have one, read the literature that came with it thoroughly. Be sure you are using it properly. If you are about to purchase a car seat, research them online and look for product reviews and ratings. Check the manufacturer on consumer sites and the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been recalls or any issues with their seats. Consumer reports are a great source of information (such as Consumer Digest).
Check with your local police and fire rescue organizations, because they sometimes conduct free inspections of child safety seats to make sure that they are functioning properly and that they are in safe condition. They also teach parents the exact, proper use of these seats. You can find car seat checkup events in your area.
Buckle up every time
According to Safe Kids USA (which researches data and produces reports on child safety in America), 45% of children under age 14 who die in car crashes in the U.S. are completely unrestrained. Parents need to be diligent about buckling their child in every single time. When the car ride is going to be short or the parent is rushing on a hectic schedule, they may not take that extra minute to properly buckle a child into their seat and position the seat properly. This could be a fatal mistake. No child should ever ride in any motor vehicle without proper restraints.
Little ones in the back seat
Children are the most safe in the backseat. Until they are 13 years old, children should always ride in the backseat with younger children in car seats. As they grow, they can be moved to a booster seat and finally to a regular seat with seatbelt. Infants should be placed facing the rear and until the child is at least one year old and weighs at least 20 pounds. Typically, children should ride in a child safety seat until they are age four and at least 40 pounds. At this age or weight, you can then start using the booster seats. When the child is at least eight years old and approximately 4’ 9” tall, you can see if the seatbelt fits them properly. The seatbelt strap in their lap should lay across their upper thighs and the shoulder strap should comfortably come down over their shoulder and make sure the strap is snug without gaps.
Distractions can lead to disaster
Obviously when there is a child in the vehicle, you are driving with precious cargo. We encourage parents and caregivers to focus completely on the road and other drivers for the highest possible level of safety for children in the vehicle. Distractions like loud music, eating, or using cell phones can put child passengers at risk. They are much less likely to survive a car crash than an adult.
Know the laws when it comes to child passengers. In a future article, we will discuss child safety laws in Texas. Drive safely, fasten your seatbelt and be sure everyone else does, too!