Child Passenger Safety for Automobile Accidents

October 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Last month during Child Passenger Safety Week, federal officials released statistics on children in car accidents that highlight the huge difference child safety seats can make in reducing the risk of injury or death for children who are involved in auto accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the number of U.S. children who died in 2009 dropped 3 percent from 2008. The NHTSA also reported that 96% of children ages 3 and under used a child safety seat in 2009. However, after the age 3, the percentage of children under 13 using booster seats or the correct safety restraints drops to 89% overall, with only 41% of children between the ages of 4 and 7 placed in booster seats in 2009; virtually the same as 2008.

“Make no mistake about it: child safety seats save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Children who graduate too soon from their safety seats are at risk of serious injury. Parents and caregivers should ensure that safety seats are installed correctly and should always use them. Their children depend on it.”

The NHTSA estimates that about four children per day were killed in car crashes last year, and 490 per day were injured. In total, 1,314 children were killed on U.S. roads in 2009.

Any child under 80 pounds or shorter than 57 inches should be in a child safety seat. But that safety seat needs to be installed the correct way to properly protect the child in case of a crash. The following tips should always be followed when placing a child in a children safety seat:

  • Infants less than a year old and weighing 20 lbs and under should always be placed in a rear-facing position.
  • Children older than 1 years old and weighing more than 20 pounds should be placed in a forward-facing car seat until they are four years old or weigh more than 40 lbs.
  • Children between the ages of 4 and 8 should use a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches or taller.
  • All children younger than 13 should sit in the back seat to avoid crushing injury from air bags. Safety seats should always be installed in the back seat.
  • Avoid using second-hand car seats and only use car seats that you know have never been in an accident. Do not use any car seat older than six years old.
  • When securing a child in a safety seat, make sure that the harness is level with the shoulders and that the straps are tight and secure.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has provided a system of child safety seat inspection stations across the U.S. It is recommended that anyone installing a child safety seat into a car for the first time take the car and seat to one of these inspection stations, where a trained individual will make certain that the seat is installed correctly.

As Maryland accident lawyers, we have seen many cases where devastating injuries occurred with children who were not properly restrained in the vehicle, which is why we devote many of our blog posts to child safety seats and safe driving. Our attorneys have also seen many cases involving horrible accidents where infants and young children were properly protected, and the proper use of a child safety seat allowed them to escape the accident with only minor injury.

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