Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death among children in the U.S. More than 600 children under the age of 12 died, and more than 121,000 were injured in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Especially concerning is the fact that CDC research showed that in a single year, nearly 620,000 kids from infant to age 12 rode in vehicles without the use of either a child safety seat, a booster seat, or a seat belt “at least some of the time.” A third of the children who died in motor vehicle crashes weren’t buckled up at all.
Children are among the most vulnerable people on the road, and it’s imperative that parents, loved ones, and caregivers take car seat/restraint recommendations and guidelines seriously. That means:
- Children need to be in the right size and type of car seat for their age and size;
- The car seat needs to be installed correctly; and
- The car seat needs to be registered so that parents and caregivers can be notified of possible recalls.
Now, a recent analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that booster seat use among children between the ages of four and seven (the intended age group for this particular kind of restraint) is down.
Researchers discovered that in 2015, 44.5 percent of children between the ages of four and seven were restrained in a booster seat, compared to 46.3 percent of children in 2013 (the last time the survey was conducted).
Study authors say there is some indication that parents are prematurely graduating their children to restraint types that are not appropriate for their age, weight, and height, elevating the risk of child injuries in the event of a car accident.
Booster outreach programs by the NHTSA and other groups first began in 2000, when Congress passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. The Act mandated that the DOT slash the number of child deaths caused by a failure to use booster seats by 25 percent.
Appropriate restraint systems for children between the ages of four and seven are either a forward-facing seat or a booster seat, depending on the child’s height and weight. (NHTSA guidelines for selecting the right size of car seat can be found here.) Some of the major findings from the recent study include that approximately 37.4 percent of children in the U.S. between ages four and seven aren’t being properly restrained. Of those, 26 percent are using regular seat belts, and 11 percent aren’t using any restraint system. Premature graduation from car seats to booster seats was at 9.3 percent in 2013, but it was up to 13.6 percent in 2015. Seat belt use among girls between the ages of eight and 12 fell from 90.5 percent in 2013 to 83 percent in 2015. Restraint use among all children between 37 and 53 inches tall fell from 90 percent in 2013 to 83 percent in 2015.
AAA reports the proper use of car seats reduces the potential risk of child injuries in a car accident by between 70 and 80 percent. The risk of death is reduced by 28 percent. Booster seats specifically lower the risk of non-fatal injuries among four-to-seven-year-olds by 45 percent.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
The 2015 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats, Sept. 2016, NHTSA
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