It can be difficult to keep pace with the latest trends in car seat safety, but it is one of the best things parents can do to prevent their children from being seriously injured in an accident. Using child car seats and other restraints properly can cut the risk of death or serious injury for a child by half or more. Unfortunately, an alarming new study reveals parents' adherence to child car seat safety guidelines is on the decline.
As Children Grow, Car Seats Should Be Replaced
The American Academy of Pediatrics issues car seat safety guidelines for kids of all ages. Here are a few highlights to help keep your children safe on Virginia roads:
- A child should use a rear-facing car seat until he or she reach the maximum height or weight for the seat specified by the manufacturer, which on average is around the age of 2.
- Next, a child should transition into a forward-facing car seat, with a five-point harness, for as long as possible up to manufacturer specifications.
- When a child outgrows a car seat, the child should sit in a booster seat, which will make the lap and shoulder belt fit properly until the child reaches around 4 feet 9 inches tall and is between 8 and 12 years old when the seat belt should fit properly on its own.
- Finally, a child should remain in the back seat until around the age of 13 since sitting in the front seat before that age is associated with increased risk of injury.
Study Shows Parents Still Not Following Guidelines
These guidelines seem simple enough, but researchers from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AAP) discovered parents simply weren’t following them consistently. After a three-year study observing over 21,000 children, the researchers found poor parental adherence to each of the child safety guidelines. Minority children were reportedly even more likely to be improperly restrained in many cases. From their first birthday on, as children got older they were less likely to be properly restrained or secured in age-appropriate seats. There was also an increased incidence of children riding without any restraint or riding in the front seat before they were old enough for it to be safe. The risks of poor car seat safety also increased across the board when the adult driver failed to wear his or her own seat belt.
This research shows that parents may be unaware, confused, or even negligent in following safe child seat safety practices and car seat laws. The findings also suggest there may be additional risk to children who ride in carpools if there aren't enough seat belts in the back seat of the vehicle to allow the proper use of car seats and other restraints for each child riding in the vehicle.
Was Your Child Injured In a Car Accident? Contact Shevlin Smith Today
Whenever your child is a passenger in a car, insist proper child safety guidelines be followed to protect your child from potentially serious injuries should a car accident occur. If your child has been injured in an accident, get help from an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer. Call Shelvin Smith today at (703) 721-4233 for a free consultation.