According to the latest available data with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 180,000 children got injured in car accidents in 2018, which translates to 500 injuries each day. As a matter of fact, most of these accidents could have been prevented if automobile seats were installed and used in the correct manner.
New research from the National Safety Council (NSC) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) in September 2021 highlighted the level to which caregivers and parents in the U.S. are informed about proper automobile seat installation and use. Sadly, the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF) report revealed that over 50% of all automobile seats that were inspected were found to be installed and used inappropriately. On average, only 1 out of every 5 parents and caregivers consider professional assistance to install and secure their kids in automobile seats. The data from NDCF also depicted the following:
- Three common mistakes: Too loose car seat installation, failure to use the tether during forward-facing car seat installation with either the seat belt or lower anchors, and too loose harness straps when securing a kid in an automobile seat.
- Kids are usually moved out of the right automobile seats even before it is safe to do so. Over 25% of children are transitioned to booster seats from forward-facing seats too early, and over 90% of kids, who use lap-and-shoulder seat belts, below the age of 10 years, should ideally be in an automobile seat or booster seat.
- Caregivers and parents hardly consider automobile seat inspections as their kids grow into booster and forward-facing car seats. Child safety technicians check roughly 4x the amount of rear-facing seats than forward-facing seats, and more than 70% of forward-facing car seats are not installed appropriately.
Other Child Passenger Safety Statistics
The figures from different sources below should be enough to corroborate the importance of child passenger safety:
- Automobile crashes remain the top reason behind deaths of kids aged 1-13 years.
- On average, three children were killed each day in automobile accidents in 2017 alone.
- In 2017, around 50% of children, aged 8-12 years, weren’t buckled up in comparison to 36% of children, aged 4-7 years, and 22% of kids, below the age of 4 years.
- Over 60% of parents, who try to buckle up or secure their kids, do so incorrectly. It is also estimated that 20% of booster seats and around 50% of automobile seats are used in a way that is ineffective.
Why Car Safety Concerns Are Different For Kids
Small kids are not as resilient as adults in automobile crashes and most safety features in cars these days are either disabled or less effective in safeguarding children. Owing to their lower body weight and shorter height, children are more vulnerable to injuries in car accidents. In some situations, they are susceptible to risks that are not even applicable to adult people.
For example, poorly designed car seats and seat belts that are manufactured to safeguard adults do not meet the requirement of kids. And, do you know that airbags shut off automatically if there is not enough weight on the seat? Also, if airbags are deployed too high on a person’s body, they can do more harm than the accident that caused them to open.
Having said that, airbags are still the most effective safety devices in serious accidents, but this additional safety feature may not work for small kids.
Choosing the Right Kind of Safety Restraint for Children
Since mistakes, while buckling up kids can result in injuries or fatalities, it is crucial for caregivers and parents to choose the right kind of kids’ safety restraint.
- Forward-Facing Seat: Small kids aged 1-3 years with a well-developed musculoskeletal system may face forward, but they are still required be secured in a seat in the back of the automobile.
- Rear-Facing Seat: Young babies and infants are safer when they travel in an appropriate seat in the back while facing the rear of the car.
- Seat Belt: All kids less than 18 years of age must wear a seat belt while being seated anywhere inside the automobile. Remember that all car occupants are required to buckle up while being seated in the front seat.
- Booster Seat: Older kids are well protected in a booster seat, which elevates their position by several inches. This allows the factory-installed seat belt to fits firmly around their lap and shoulder.
Child Car Seat Statute of Florida
The official child car seat statute of Florida requires drivers with young kids as passengers to follow the rules below:
- Passengers aged 5 years or below must be protected with a “federally approved, crash-tested child restraint device”
- If a child is 3 years old or younger, the restraint device to protect them “must be either a separate carrier or an integrated child seat from the vehicle manufacturer”
- A booster seat, separate carrier, or integrated seat may be used to safeguard kids aged 4-5 years.
Note that in some specific situations, you may not require following the rules above strictly. For example, if a child has a particular health condition, you may be exempted from these requirements. If you are driving with your child, who is suffering from any of such conditions, it’s wise to keep documentation from your doctor with you to avoid getting into any legal trouble. For more details on this matter, it is best to contact your personal injury attorney in Florida.
What Should You Do If Your Child Suffers Injuries In a Car Accident?
Even after choosing the right kind of safety restraint and car seat to safeguard kids in the event of a car accident, these devices cannot eliminate the threat completely. If your kid has been harmed in an automobile crash, contact a skilled child personal injury lawyer in Clermont, Florida to understand your legal rights and options.