Federal Study: Buckling Up Children Reduces Injuries and Deaths in Car Crashes

seatbelt.jpgAccording to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in February 2014, automobile crash deaths among U.S. children 12 and younger decreased by 43 percent from 2002 to 2011. The data was compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSB) and then analyzed by researchers from the CDS. While the drop in deaths among U.S. children was promising news, the report also revealed that 9,000 children died in car crashes during the same time period. Furthermore, the study uncovered that one in three children, or 33 percent, who died in a car accident in 2011 were not in a car seat or wearing a seat belt. The CDC study pointed out that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. children and that buckling up is the best way to reduce deaths and save lives.

Commenting on the research, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said, “No child should die in a motor vehicle crash because they were not properly buckled up and yet, sadly, it happens hundreds of times each year in the United States.” Frieden continued, “Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age-and-size appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle.”

Moreover, the study revealed that from 2009-2010, 45 percent of African-American children who died in car accidents were not buckled up; during the same time period, 46 percent of Latino children killed in car crashes also were not restrained. Yet, only 26 percent of white children killed were not buckled up.

While the research showed that using age-and-size appropriate child restraints reduces deaths and injuries among children in car accidents, only two states, Tennessee and Wyoming, have child restraint laws requiring children ages eight and younger to be buckled into car or booster seats while in a vehicle. According to the CDC, such laws result in more children being restrained properly.

The CDC report suggested that parents and caregivers should take certain steps to prevent their children from being injured in a car accident. First, children should be in car seats, booster seats or seat belts in the back seat during every ride, no matter how short the trip. Parents or caregivers should also use a rear-facing car or booster seat for children ages two and younger. Forward-facing seats should be used for children between two and five years of age. Children ages five and older should wear a seat belt; a seat belt fits properly when the lap belt fits across the upper thighs and the shoulder best goes across the chest, not the neck. Children ages twelve and under should always be placed in the back seat. Finally, parents and caregivers should consult the owner’s manual to make sure car seats are installed properly.

More about the study can be found here.

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