The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently published eye-opening data about child restraints and car accident fatality rates in the Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed fatal crash data over a four-year period and found that 43 percent of children under the age of 15 who died in car accidents were either improperly restrained or not restrained at all. When children are not restrained properly in the car based on their age and weight, they are less likely to survive an accident.
A Closer Look at the Data
NHTSA agents used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to identify more than 18,000 children, aged 15 or younger, who had been involved in a car accident where someone had died. Children accounted for 15.9 percent of those fatally injured in the crashes. Nearly half of those children who died were either incorrectly restrained in their vehicles, or not restrained at all.
Twenty percent of the children who survived a crash involving a fatality were also either inadequately restrained or not restrained at all. Surprisingly, the NHTSA also released data last year that seat belt use is at an all-time high since 1994, proving that even though restraints are being used, they are often not used properly based on the children’s age, weight, and height.
Basic Child Restraint Guidelines
Though child restraint laws vary from state to state, the NHTSA offers general safety guidelines for families throughout the country. For the first year of life, children should ride in rear-facing seats designed for their height and weight. Between the ages of one to three, children should remain rear-facing until they reach the height and weight limits the seat’s manufacturer permits.
From the ages of around four to seven, children can ride in forward-facing seats with a harness until they max out the manufacturer’s height and weight guidelines. At that time, children can move to booster seat with a seatbelt. Children should remain in a booster while riding in a car until they have grown enough for the seatbelt to fit properly without a booster seat. A seatbelt should never cross a child’s face or neck, but instead should fit snugly across their shoulder. Children should ride in the back seat until at least age 13.
Federal Intervention May Save Young Lives
When child safety seats are not used as they were designed, they may not protect a child during an accident. Differences in child safety seat regulations from state to state create confusion for parents and room for error. Parents should always consult their pediatrician or a local child safety seat expert to ensure they are properly retraining their child in the car.
Additionally, the study found glaring differences in child car accident fatality rates from state to state, proving that some states are doing a better job at education and enforcement than others. Federal involvement promoting collaboration, education, and legislation at a national level may save precious lives.
Camden Car Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Fight for Families of Children Injured in Car Accidents
Parents who do everything in their power to protect their children are still powerless to control other drivers. Children who are injured due to another’s recklessness behind the wheel need an advocate. Camden car accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law fight for victims injured in car accidents. Discuss the best course of legal action for you with a Camden car accident lawyer by calling 856-414-0010 or complete our online contact form. The DiTomaso Law team serves clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.