How Can I Keep My Child Safe in the Car?
November 26, 2021
In 2019, about 183,000 children were injured in traffic accidents, and hundreds of these injuries were fatal, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented. Parents can help keep their children safe in the car by doing the following:
- Purchase approved car seats and restraints.
- Use car seats and restraints properly.
- Do not drive while impaired.
- Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.
- Keep the car locked and keys hidden when you are not driving.
- Teach children to be careful around cars.
Over the years, laws requiring car seats have helped reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries among children involved in car accidents. However, incorrect use of car seats and restraints can decrease the effectiveness of these important safety devices. Other risk factors also contribute to the number of children hurt by automobiles, including negligent drivers and carelessness on the part of those responsible for ensuring the safety of children.
The use of car seats has helped keep children much safer in the event of a car crash. However, parents also need to know these facts about car safety:
- Unlocked cars pose a risk of child entrapment.
- Parents should never leave their children alone in a car seat or restraint to run an errand.
- Parents should check to see if the car seats they are using have been recalled. Car seat recalls are fairly common.
- Children should always be monitored. Children can easily climb into an unlocked vehicle or become trapped inside the trunk, putting them at risk for suffocation or heatstroke.
- Always check all the seats in the car before locking the doors.
- Lock the car when you are not using the vehicle.
- Never leave keys in your car.
- If your child goes missing, check your car and the trunk first.
- If you happen to see a child alone in a vehicle, do not hesitate to call 911.
What Are Common Risk Factors for Car Accident Injuries Among Children?
The most common risk factors for car accident injuries among children include the following:
- Not using car seats or restraints.
- Using car seats or restraints that have not been installed properly.
- Driving while impaired.
According to a study published by the Journal of Pediatrics, proper use of car seats can reduce the rate of infant injuries and deaths in an accident by 71 percent. Despite this fact, a number of parents do not use car seats at all, especially on short trips or when children are over 2 years old. Studies also indicate that nearly 80 percent of parents do not install or use car seats properly. When this happens, children can be thrown from vehicles through open windows or car doors upon impact.
Adults who drive while impaired pose a major risk for child passengers. More than one in five children who die in car accidents were involved in alcohol-related collisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in more than half of those collisions, it was the child’s own driver who had been drinking.
What Are Pennsylvania’s Laws Regarding Car Seats and Restraints?
All states in the U.S. require children riding in vehicles to use approved car seats, booster seats, or seat belts that are appropriate for the child’s size and age.
In Pennsylvania, the laws regarding car seats and restraints include:
- Up to 2 years old: Children must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow the maximum weight and height limits listed by the car seat manufacturer.
- Up to 4 years old: Children must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle.
- Between 4 and 8 years old: Children must ride in a booster seat that is appropriate for their size.
- Children 8 years old and older: Children must use a seat belt.
Pennsylvania also recommends that parents consult the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website for help finding the right car seat.
How Should I Choose a Car Seat?
Choose a car seat by looking for one that fits your child’s age and size. It is also important to choose a car seat that you can properly install and secure in your automobile. This may be easier than it sounds, so it is important to test out the car seat before you buy it, or make sure you can return it for a refund if it does not install easily.
Take time to read all of the car seat instructions before installing. Many times, children have been injured in car accidents simply because their parents failed to read the manual before installing the car seat.
CDC guidelines for choosing car seats are more stringent than Pennsylvania laws. These guidelines include the following:
- Rear-facing car seats: Use a rear-facing car seat until the child is 2 years or has reached the maximum height or weight limit of a rear-facing car seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a car.
- Forward-facing car seats: Buckle children in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until 5 years old or when they reach the maximum height or weight limit of the car seat.
- Booster seats: Children who have outgrown forward-facing car seats should be buckled in a booster seat. Booster seats help ensure that the part of the seat belt that runs across the lap does not compress the abdomen if an accident happens.
Children under 12 years old should always ride in the back seat. The middle back seat is the safest spot in the car. Parents should always wear a seat belt and buckle the children in safely, even for short trips.
What Should I Do if My Child Is Involved in a Car Accident?
If your child is involved a car accident, seek medical attention for your child right away, even if your child is not showing any symptoms. Car accidents often result in head injuries that are not immediately apparent, especially in children. It is important to get a medical diagnosis early on, and follow up with your child’s doctor if they develop signs of swelling, sleep disturbances, or mood changes. Children may not be able to communicate their symptoms, and it is important to get them to a pediatrician as soon as possible to document any medical problems that may develop.
If your child is injured in a car crash, contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Our lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have obtained significant settlements for their clients over the years, including the following:
- $1 million verdict for car accident. Our client suffered a fractured pelvis and leg due to a car accident. The insurance company initially offered a much lower settlement, however, we took the case to trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
When we take on a car accident case, we do it with integrity, skill, and compassion.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Children Injured in Auto Accidents
For more than 75 years, we have helped people injured through no fault of their own. If your child has been injured in a car accident caused by someone else, contact our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Contact us online or call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) for a free consultation. We have offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.