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Car Accidents Involving Children Who Are Not Properly Secured

Craig McClellan

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced that more than 33 percent of the children under the age of 13 who died in car accidents in 2011 were not properly secured. That includes fatal car crashes where smaller children were not in car seats and where older children were not wearing seat belts. A recent survey showed that roughly 25 percent of parents and caregivers had driven a car without first checking to see if the children in the vehicle were properly secured. The survey also revealed a number of respondents who suggested that it was acceptable to allow a child to ride unsecured in certain circumstances. The results are frightening given that car accidents are the leading cause of death among children aged 1 to 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those numbers might be underselling the problem. The director of traffic safety for the AAA suggests that all children who are shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches tall or weigh less than 80 pounds should use a booster seat, regardless of age. In many states, booster seat laws fall short of the guidelines recommended by groups such as the NHTSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Many more young lives could be potentially saved by full compliance with car seat, booster seat and seat belt guidelines pertaining to children.

It is never safe for a child to ride in a motor vehicle without a seat belt. That is true regardless of the size of the vehicle. The study showed that unrestrained child deaths were more common in SUVs, pickups and vans than in cars. There are several possible explanations for this, but the bottom line is that a child who is not properly secured is not safe.