A new study shows what many parents and pediatricians already know – car seats are the safest place for a baby or small child. The study was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health by Thomas Rice. Rice is a research epidemiologist at the Traffic Safety Center in the department of environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. Data from 6,303 vehicles was used and included accidents from 1996 to 2005.
Infants and small children placed in age-appropriate child restraints were significantly less likely to die if involved in an auto accident. Babies under the age of one benefit from being correctly restrained in a car seat, as their risk of dying dropped by 73%. Children aged 1 to 2 benefited the most, with their risk dropping by 76%. Finally, the risk of children aged 2 to 3 dying in a car accident dropped by an impressive 60%.
The study also revealed that the greatest benefits to proper car seat use was in preventing fatalities in rollover accidents, rural environments and accidents involving light trucks.
This is important information for parents, as car accidents are still the leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children over the age of 1. Most states have laws requiring the use of age-appropriate restraints for babies and children, and most parents comply. Nationwide, 93% of babies under the age of 1 are properly restrained as are 91% of one to three year olds.
Virginia’s use of child safety restraints is rated “Good” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In Virginia, all children age 7 years and under must ride in a child safety restraint unless they have a physician’s exemption. In addition, children in rear-facing seats must ride in the back seat if possible. If it isn’t possible, then children in a rear-facing seat may be placed in front only if front passenger airbag is deactivated. It is very important that the airbag be deactivated as a child could be killed by the force of the airbag if it is deployed in an accident.
Some parents graduate their young children to seat belts before it is safe to do so. While the study found that children aged 2 to 3 wearing only a safety belt survived at about the same rate as children in a car seat, they suffered more serious injuries. When considering the type of restraint to use for a child, parents must consider not only the possibility of a life being saved but also how to reduce the chance of serious, debilitating injury in an auto accident.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, then please contact the Northern Virginia law offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas today. We will work with you to secure the justice and compensation that you deserve.
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