Child Passenger Safety

As a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your children from harm. You take steps to make sure they are safe when they are in the care of others, but do you take steps to protect them when they are with you? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children under the age of 12 in the United States.

Fortunately, child passenger safety involves taking simple steps and following straightforward guidelines. Ensuring that your young child is properly fastened in a child seat that is appropriate for your child’s age and weight can provide significant protection in the event of a crash.

What Do the Statistics Say About Child Passenger Safety?

According to the CDC, a total of 603 children ages 12 years and younger were killed in motor vehicle wrecks in 2020. That averages out to approximately 50 kids per month, or more than one child per day. More than 5,000 children were hurt, for a total of over 63,000 in 2020 alone.

The risk of injury or death is not spread equally among all children, however. Children who were fastened properly in their seats fared better than those who were not. 

The CDC’s statistics show that 40 percent of children ages eight to 12 years who were killed were not properly restrained, while only 31 percent of children under four years of age who were killed were not properly restrained.

It is fortunate, then, that the number of children buckled up was high. According to the CDC, 87 percent of children ages 8 to 12 were buckled up, whereas among children ages one to three, 94 percent were buckled up. 

Risks Across Populations

However, child passenger safety statistics also show that children of certain races and ethnicities were more likely to suffer fatal injuries in a crash. 

American Indian and Alaska Native children had the highest rate of death in car crashes, at 2.67 deaths per 100,000 population. They were followed by Black children, whose rate of death was 1.96 per 100,000 population.

The CDC pointed to several studies that helped explain the elevated risk of death among these populations. These studies suggested that among the Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native population, it is more common for children to ride in cars without being properly restrained.

Other Risks to Child Passenger Safety

Other circumstances that led to an increased risk of injury or death of young children included the following:

  • Children in rural areas were more likely to be improperly restrained than children in urban areas
  • Nearly one out of every four children killed on the road were involved in a crash with an alcohol-impaired driver
  • Drivers who did not wear seat belts were more likely to not properly restrain their children, either

Researchers also suggested that, while many children are buckled up, as many as 46 percent of all child car seats were used incorrectly. This included seats that were improperly installed, harnesses and belts that were positioned incorrectly, and harnesses that were too loose.

Effectiveness of Child Passenger Safety Seats

Properly restraining young children in an approved child seat decreases the chances of children being seriously hurt or killed in a crash. For children ages four through eight, using an appropriate booster seat reduced the risk of the child sustaining an injury by 45 percent. 

For children over the age of eight, using a seat belt reduced the risk of death or significant injury by approximately one-half.

Child Passenger Safety Guidelines

Keeping your child safe means properly restraining them in an appropriate car seat or booster seat. The type of seat that is appropriate for them will depend on the child’s age, weight, and height.

Very young children who are under the age of four should ride in a rear-facing car seat that is secured in the rear seat of your vehicle. Your child should continue using this seat until they reach the maximum height or weight limitation of the seat.

Next, children should sit in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the height or weight limitation of the seat. This seat, too, should be placed in the rear of the vehicle and not in the front seat. Once they outgrow this seat, they should ride in a booster seat in the rear of the vehicle until they are tall enough that a seat belt fits them properly.

Children should ride in the backseat of your vehicle until they are at least 12 years old. This is true even if they have outgrown their booster seat and are able to wear a seat belt correctly. Doing this provides your child with the best protection in the event of a crash.

Your Child’s Safety Is in Your Hands

Taking the time to learn how to properly restrain your child in a car seat or booster seat can save your child’s life in the event of a crash. Investing in a seat that is appropriate for your child’s age, height, and weight can significantly reduce the likelihood of your child being injured or killed in the event of a serious crash.

Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, LLP. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including cartruck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, LLP. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!