Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - and many of these deaths are preventable. A CDC study found that, within a single year, more than 618,000 children between ages 10 and 12 "rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat, or booster seat, or a seat belt at least some of the time." Making sure your young passengers are properly buckled up can help reduce the number of child fatalities resulting from car accidents in Columbia, Missouri, and throughout the country.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that nearly 73% of child restraints in automobiles are not used properly. In 2010, eight children under age eight died in Missouri car accidents, and more than 1,600 children suffered injuries. Officers handed out more than 2,100 citations to drivers who neglected to properly secure a child under the age of nine. In addition, there were more than 1,000 additional citations issued to drivers who neglected to seat belt a child who weighed more than 80 pounds (or who was taller than 4 feet 9 inches).
The Missouri Highway Patrol asks that every driver makes sure that child passengers are properly restrained at all times.
Child Safety Restraints & Missouri State Law
• Children under the age of 5 must be seated in the appropriate child safety seat.
• Children who weigh less than 40 pounds must be buckled into a child seat appropriate for the child's weight and height. This rule disregards age.
• If a child is between ages four and eight; weighs between 40 and 80 pounds; and is shorter than 4 feet 9 inches; he or she must be buckled into a child passenger restraint system that is appropriate for the child.
• Children ages eight to 15 are required to wear a seat belt, no matter which seat they're occupying in a vehicle.
• Missouri's Child Restraint Law is a primary law, meaning that an officer does not need to find a prior offense to stop a vehicle and issue a citation.
• Vehicle occupants under the age of 18 who are in a truck of any kind must wear a seat belt.
• No one under age 18 is permitted to ride in the unenclosed bed of a truck with a gross weight of less than 12,000 pounds on lettered highways; on highways maintained by state or federal governments; or within city limits. Exceptions to this rule include special events, agricultural purposes and parades.
• The driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all occupants under age 16 are properly restrained at all times. Those who are 16 and older will be held accountable for buckling themselves in.
• Rear-facing car seats should never be used in the front seat in front of an active airbag. Parents are urged to keep children in these types of seats until they've outgrown the seat's height and weight requirements. Rear-facing car seats can help to reduce stress to the neck, spine and head in the event of an accident.
• Always remember, the back seat is the safest place for a child - whether your front seat has an airbag or not.