Child Passenger Safety
One of the leading causes of death among young children is automobile accidents. The real tragedy of this is that so many of these deaths are preventable. In 2014, the last year with complete totals, 612 children ages 12 and younger died as occupants in a motor vehicle crash. More than 121,000 were injured. A study by the CDC concluded that more than 618,000 kids 12 and younger rode in vehicles without a safety seat, booster seat or even a seat belt. Of the kids killed in these crashes, 34% were not buckled in at the time of the accident.
These number are startling, but even this does not tell the whole story. Over a 10-year period from 2001 through 2010, about 20% of the childhood fatalities involved a drunk driver. In 65% of the cases the drunk driver was the driver of the car that the child was in.
Sadly, even in cases where the parents and drivers have good intentions, just about half of the car seats and booster seats in use were installed improperly leading to reduced effectiveness.
There are lot of numbers here, but they are here to tell us a very important story. As parents and drivers, we have a responsibility to the young passengers in our charge as drivers. Before you allow a baby or child into your car you must make sure that the car seat or booster seat is not only in proper working condition, but that it is installed properly as well. This info-graphic from the CDC shows when you should have a car seat facing the rear and when you should have it facing forward. It also shows when you should transition from a car seat to a booster seat, and when a booster seat is no longer required.
Never put a car seat or boosted seat in the front seat of a car. Most cars now have passenger side air bags. Keep children, especially babies away from airbags. The force in which they deploy can be fatal, especially to a baby in a rear facing car seat.
Car seats should never be bought used. There are 2 major reasons why this is so. The first is that car seats have an expiration date. The material that the seats are made from eventually dry out reducing the effectiveness of the car seat. The second is that you cannot know if the seat has been involved in a prior accident. Once a seat has been in an accident, it is no longer a viable seat. Even the slightest bruise to the seat can weaken the integrity of the seat.
In New York, you can find a Car Seat Inspection station near where you live at: http://www.safeny.ny.gov/seat-per.htm
The last point here is one that cannot be said too often. Do not drive a car if you have been drinking. The danger to yourself, your passengers and anyone around you is real, it is dire and it is very often fatal.
Child car safety is extremely important. If you are driving in car with kids who are not your own, driving with substandard equipment or driving impaired opens you up to civil and criminal liability. If the children in your car are injured by another driver, and you seek damages, your case may be significantly weakened if your car seats or booster seats were defective or installed incorrectly. Your case may be worthless if you were impaired at the time of the accident.
If you or your passengers were injured in an accident give us a call for your free case review and consultation.