Less than two months ago, on Christmas Day, a 1-year-old girl was killed in Anson County in a wreck on Highway 74, when a vehicle crossed the center line, injuring several people and resulting in the baby’s death just a few hours later.
The crash remains under investigation, but here’s what we do know: Far too many children are seriously hurt or killed in Charlotte car accidents every year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study revealing that while motor vehicle deaths among children under the age of 12 fell by 43 percent over the last 10 years, there were still 9,000 children in that age cohort killed during the same time frame.
A large majority of these deaths were preventable.
Part of the problem is the lack of seat belt usage. About one-third of all children who died in crashes weren’t buckled up properly. Among minority children, the seat belt problem appears to be more pronounced. The CDC indicates that about half of all Hispanic and black children who died in crashes were not properly belted in.
(Of course, that means anywhere from two-thirds to half were belted in correctly, which points to the fact that this is only one of the issues that must be addressed.)
Still, evidence reveals that state laws that require children to be buckled up translate to fewer deaths. However, only two states – Tennessee and Wyoming – require children to use car seats or booster seats until the age of eight. Most other states, including North Carolina, require it through age 6 or 7, while a dozen states, including South Carolina, only require car seats or booster seats until a child reaches the age of 5.
Among those states that have required booster and car seats for children ages 7 and 8, serious injuries and deaths among this group have fallen by 17 percent, the CDC reports. Children between the ages of 8 and 12 were the most likely among the under-12 crowd not to be buckled in.
Despite some of the encouraging downward trend of some of these car accident statistics, the fact is that motor vehicle crashes remain one of the leading causes of death for children under 12.
Car seats wouldn’t save every child’s life, but the CDC posits that if there had been 100 percent usage among children between the ages of 0 and 4 between 2002 and 2011, some 800 children lost to car crashes would still be with us today.
The agency recommends a rear-facing car seat for all infants under the age of 2. For those between the ages of 2 and 5, a forward-facing seat is recommended. Those over the age of 5 should use a booster seat until a seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 57 inches tall). After that, children should use the regular seat belt – every time.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to educate themselves on car and booster seat safety, use them each and every time – no matter how short the trip – and set a good example by always buckling up themselves.
Not every crash is preventable. You can’t control the negligence of others. But you can give your children a fighting chance by ensuring they are properly belted in.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Child Passenger Safety, February 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
SC Mother Charged with DUI After Children Killed in Crash, Jan. 7, 2014, Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Blog