Child Passenger Safety
December 6, 2018
Automobile accidents are the leading cause of injury and death for children. Data shows that using car seats and other child-specific restraints decreases the rate of injury by more than 70%, and the risk of death by nearly one-third. Prioritizing the safety of young passengers is critical – and so is following reputable guidelines on how to properly use them.
General Information on Car Seats – and Which Ones are the Safest
Car seats (also known as child passenger restraint systems) are portable seats designed for infants or young children in order to secure them as passengers in a motor vehicle. When using car seats, there are some general guidelines that parents and caretakers must observe. One example is the requirement that children under 2-years-old and weighing less than 30-40lbs (weight and/or height restrictions vary from model to model) must be secured in rear-facing car seats instead of forward-facing ones. Each state has its own set of child passenger laws, all of which are intended to ensure safe outcomes for young passengers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released an updated set of car seat and child restraint safety recommendations. One of the most notable takeaways is that children should be kept in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats support a child’s neck, head, and spine in the event of a crash, but in forward-facing seats the head is usually thrown forward. Because of their design, rear-facing seats are able to inhibit the rate of head, spine, neck, and brain injuries in children.
More Recommendations on Car Seat and Child Restraint System Safety
Every day four children younger than 14-years-old die in motor vehicle-related incidents, but using car seats and/or seatbelts can help prevent these useless tragedies. To ensure that parents and caretakers are able to make informed – and safe – choices on child restraint systems, the AAP offers guidelines that vary based on a child’s age and size. The academy’s recommendations include:
- Securing children exclusively in rear-facing car safety seats for as long as possible – but remember to make sure that they meet height and weight requirements;
- Use a forward-facing seat that comes with a harness once a child outgrows his or her rear-facing seat, and:
- Next, switch to a belt-positioning booster seat. Belt-positioning booster seats come with lap and shoulder seatbelts. Once the seatbelts fit a child properly (typically this occurs between the ages of 8 and 12-years-old and when the child is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall), it is advisable to transition to using only the vehicle’s seatbelts – but remember: children under 13 should always sit in the rear of the vehicle.
If you would like to read more of the AAP’s recommendations, please visit: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Updates-Recommendations-on-Car-Seats-for-Children.aspx.
Always Check Labels!
Before using any kind of car or booster seat it is essential to carefully read the instructions, weight and height limits, and any warning labels. Improper use can result in unintended – and serious – injuries. For individuals who are unsure about how to install a children’s car seat or passenger restraint system, help and guidance are readily available. Safe Kids Worldwide, a child safety organization, has child passenger safety technicians who make sure that car seats are installed correctly and provide assistance with how to use them. If you have questions and think a child passenger safety technician can help, visit: https://cert.safekids.org/get-car-seat-checked.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Helping Represent Victims of Automobile Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.