Young passengers are a parent's most precious cargo. In this post, our Kansas City personal injury lawyers discuss car accidents involving children and recommend a few precautions to help ensure our little ones travel safe.
Car accidents involving children: The facts
• Car accidents are the leading cause of death in American children between ages one and 12.
• Nationwide, 1,314 children under age 14 died in 2009 traffic crashes. Approximately 179,000 more were injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
• A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that head injuries are the most common injuries suffered by child passengers who are involved in motor vehicle accidents.
What are the leading contributing factors to injuries affecting child passengers?
• Using safety seats and proper restraints. NHTSA research indicates that nearly 75% of child safety seats are "misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child's risk of injury during a crash." Furthermore, according to Safe Kids USA, almost half of children under age 14 who suffer fatal injuries in car accidents are completely unrestrained.
• Alcohol use. More than 2/3 of children who are fatally injured in traffic collisions are riding in vehicles in operated by impaired drivers.
What can parents do to ensure their children are protected as they travel?
The most basic - and essential step - toward protecting the safety of your young passengers is to ensure they are properly restrained in child safety seats. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia offers four basic tips for parents of children of all ages:
• Restrain your children every single time they ride with you, even if you're just making a short trip.
• Keep your young passengers in the back seat, as experts agree this is the safest place for children.
• Choose the right safety seat, given your child's age and size. (Click here to find useful resource information to help you select the best seat.)
• Make sure your child's safety seat is installed correctly, and that your child is properly buckled into the seat.
Missouri's child safety seat law
• Under Missouri law, children who are under age four or who weigh less than 40 pounds must ride in an appropriate child safety seat.
• Children who are between ages four and seven who weigh 40 pounds or more must ride in an appropriate safety seat or booster seat, unless they weigh 80 pounds or more or are taller than 4'9".
• Children who are age eight and older (or who weigh at least 80 pounds or are taller than 4'9") must be properly restrained in a booster seat or with a safety belt.
However, there's much more than just a ticket at stake for parents. "Properly securing your child in a safety seat is about more than following the law though," said Leanna Depue, executive committee chair for the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. "Safety seats prevent serious injuries and could save your child's life."
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