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Child Passenger Safety Tips for Drivers

How much do you know about child safety in passenger vehicles? In light of Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week, which takes place this year from September 20-26, our Oneonta car accident attorneys at Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey, PLLC share some child passenger safety tips for drivers of young children.

Why Child Safety Is Important

Car wrecks are a leading cause of child fatalities in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 116,000 children aged 12 and under were injured and 675 killed in motor vehicle crashes in the year 2017. Of those who died, 35% were not buckled up. That same year, child restraints in passenger vehicles saved the lives of 325 children aged four and under.

Some other child safety facts published by the CDC include:

  • When compared with seat belt use alone, car seat use for children under 12 has been found to reduce the risk of injury in crashes by 71–82%.
  • Booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% for children between the ages of four and eight.

How to Keep a Young Passenger Safe

Children under 12 are safest when strapped into an age-appropriate seat made for passenger vehicles. There are three main types of car seats: rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats.

First, it is best to know what type of seat to use for a child based on their age and size:

  • From birth until about age 4: Use a rear-facing car seat.
  • After outgrowing the rear-facing car seat until at least age 5: Use a forward-facing car seat.
  • After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat: Use a booster seat until seat belts fit properly.
  • After outgrowing the booster seat: Use a seat belt on every trip—no exceptions.

Proper seat belt fit usually occurs when children reach about 4’9” tall—usually between the ages of nine and twelve. For maximum safety, always have your children sit in the back seat. The middle seat is the safest.

Once you have the proper seat picked out, make sure to do the following:

  • Always seat children in the backseat until they reach at least 12 years of age
  • Buckle up for every single car trip, no matter how short
  • Check the owner’s manual on your car seat for weight and height limits
  • Follow instructions to install your seat properly— statistics show that upwards of 75% of car seats are not used correctly, which can lead to accidents
  • Read instructions provided by the car seat manufacturers for properly securing children
  • Make sure your child seat functions properly—check your seat’s expiration date and if there have been any recalls
  • Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat—the force of an airbag can be deadly to small children
  • If your children complain about wearing seat belts, don't go anywhere until they agree to buckle up
  • Be a good role model by always wearing your own seatbelt

For more information about child seat safety, visit the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) page on Car Seats and Booster Seats. Drive safe!

Has your child or another loved one been injured in a car accident in New York State? Reach out to our Oneonta auto accident attorneys to schedule your free case evaluation. We may be able to help you receive compensation.

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