Study: Improper Child Car Seat Use Pervasive

Child safety restraints in motor vehicles have proven to significantly reduce the risk of serious injury and death among youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the danger is slashed by as much as 71 percent.
But the car seats and restraints only work if they are used properly. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, that is not happening in a large percentage of family vehicles.

Researchers reviewed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national survey on booster seat use from 2007 to 2009, which included nearly 22,000 children. The researchers staked out gas stations, child care centers, recreation facilities and restaurants to observe whether children were properly restrained as they pulled into these locations. Researchers then asked the driver about the child’s age, ethnicity and race.

What they discovered was deeply troubling, particularly considering traffic collisions are the No. 1 cause of death for children 3 and older in the U.S. and is responsible for 180,000 injuries annually.

Researchers found older children and minority children were far more likely not to be restrained properly. Black and Hispanic children were 10 times more likely to be unrestrained than their white counterparts. When it came to older black and Hispanic children, there were 20 times more likely than white children to be improperly seated in a motor vehicle. In fact, less than 2 percent of children who surpassed the age of 7 were using a booster seat, as safety officials recommend.

While many of those children were in seat belts, they were in fact far too small for those belts to work effectively. Also, many of those children were seated in the front passenger seat, which is not recommended until children reach the age of 13.

In South Carolina, there are laws specifying car and booster seat schedules among children. The state’s child passenger restraint law requires:

  • Children up to 1 year who weigh less than 20 pounds MUST be in a rear-facing child safety seat;
  • Children ages 1 to 5 weighing between 20 and 40 pounds have to be restrained in a forward-facing child seat (Note: The NHTSA recommends children remain in rear-facing seats as long as possible until age 2);
  • Children between 1 and 5 weighing between 40 and 80 pounds have to be secured in a booster seat;
  • Children 6 and younger are barred from sitting in the front passenger seat (unless all other rear passenger seats are occupied by other children younger than 6).

The law is inapplicable to taxis and buses used for school, church or daycare or commercial vehicles. Violators are subject to a $150 fine.

Study authors of the recent research say the findings underscore the need to increase community education and awareness of the importance of proper child safety restraint in cars – especially among those in minority communities and as it pertains to older children.

If your child has been injured in an Anderson car accident, we can help.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

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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