Report: Children Injured, Dying Due to Improper Car Seat Use

Auto collisions are a top cause of death for children, which is why Alabama’s Child Restraint Law has stringent requirements for use of child safety restraints for those under age 15.
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However, it’s been well-documented that child safety seats aren’t properly used. In fact, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports 4 out of 5 children are improperly restrained in their safety seat. The seats either aren’t the right size for the child, the child isn’t properly belted in or the seat is incorrectly installed.This is despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued research indicating proper use of child safety seats can reduce the risk of death for infant passengers by more than 70 percent and for toddler passengers by 55 percent.

Now, a new study published in the August issue of American Journal of Preventative Medicine underscores that point, finding that older children and minority children were the most likely to be improperly restrained while riding in a vehicle.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in rear-facing seats until they are 2-years-old or reach maximum height and weight requirements, as noted by the seat manufacturer. After that, they are supposed to be placed in forward-facing car seats until they outgrow those specifications. Beyond that point, school-age children should use a booster seat that positions the seat belt until they are tall enough for a seat belt to fit properly- usually by the time they are between 8 and 12-years-old or reach a height of at least 4 feet 9 inches. Additionally, it is recommended they remain in the back seat as passengers until age 13.

These measures aim to reduce the number of child injuries in motor vehicle accidents in Montgomery and nationally.

But the latest study has found that isn’t happening. In a survey on the use of booster seats, analyzing nearly 22,000 children, researchers observed certain locations for proper child safety restraint, and then interviewed parents about their car safety habits. What they found was as children age, it was less likely their parents would ensure they were properly buckled in.

Older children were more likely to sit in the front of the vehicle with no restraints, in spite of safety guidelines.

Particularly alarming was the fact that Hispanic and black infants were 10 times more likely to be unrestrained in a vehicle than their white counterparts. Older children in these minority groups were 20 times more likely than older white children to be improperly restrained. In fact, only 2 percent of Hispanic children over the age of 7 were using a booster seat, as required.

When it came to rear-facing seats, parents of all races failed. Although it’s recommended children use rear-facing seats until age 2, approximately 85 percent of the children observed in rear-facing seats were under the age of 1.

The bottom line is all children need to be properly restrained according to national and state safety guidelines, not only because it’s the law, but because the goal is to keep children safe and prevent the risk of serious, disabling injuries or death.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 1-866-942-9315 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

Additional Resources:
U.S. children at risk from poor adherence to car seat guidelines, study warns, May 29, 2015, By Ryan Jaslow, CBS News
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Reckis v. Johnson & Johnson – $63M Product Liability Verdict in Child Injury Case Affirmed, May 15, 2015, Montgomery Child Injury Lawyer Blog