Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers: Parents must make sure kids are properly restrained

A new study found that most children are not properly restrained when they ride in vehicles. The Ohio personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk urge all parents to make sure that their children are properly restrained every time they ride in a vehicle.

One of the most important jobs for any parent is to keep their children safe. A study released this week said that many parents may be failing to do just that each time they get in a vehicle.

The study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that the majority of U.S. kids do not sit safely in cars, either because they are not properly restrained in car seats or booster seats, or because they sit in the front seat.

Researchers at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, analyzed data from past studies that tracked children’s seating in cars at public sites such as restaurants, child care centers and gas stations. They observed nearly 22,000 children and found that only 3 percent of children ages 1-3 who were restrained were sititing in a proper, rear-facing car seat. And only 10 percent of 8- to 10-year-old children were properly restrained in a booster seat or car seat.

Some experts say confusion about child seat laws may be partially to blame. Child seat laws vary from state to state, and most state laws aren’t as strict as the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Under current Ohio law:

–          Infants should ride rear-facing in an infant-only or convertible seat until they are at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds.

–          Children less than 4 years old or 40 pounds must use a child safety seat.

–          Children less than 8 years old, unless they are at least 57 inches tall, must use a booster seat

The latest AAP recommendations say that until age 2, children should sit in rear-facing seats, and children over 2 should sit in front-facing seats with harnesses until their weight and height exceeds the car seat’s capacity. Then, a booster seat should still be used until a child is 57 inches tall – the average height for an 11-year-old. They recommend that children shouldn’t sit in the front seat until they’re 13. Click here to read more from the AAP on child seat safety.

Common mistakes included that children over age 7 were seldom seated in a booster seat (only 2 percent of kids used a booster seat), and that by ages 8 to 10, 25 percent of kids were already sitting in the front seat.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children older than 3 and more than 140,000 children go to emergency rooms annually as a result of car accidents. But properly seating a child in a car seat or booster seat greatly reduces the risk of injury or death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years. According to researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for children 4 to 7 years, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59% compared to seat belts.

The personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk urge all parents, grandparents or anyone else who transports children to make sure that they follow all laws and guidelines for properly restraining children every time they get in the car. It is up to each parent to decide whether they want to just follow the restrictions enforced by law, or if they want to abide by the stricter suggestions from the AAP. Also, make sure you wear your seat belt every time you get in the car. This sets a good example for your children and shows that you are concerned about and value safety.

Don’t let your child become a statistic.