In 2013, 638 children 12 years old and younger died and 127,250 were injured while passengers in motor vehicles. The CDC finds that many children in the United States ride unrestrained:
Of the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a crash in 2013, 38% were not buckled up.
Older children tend to buckle up less often compared to younger children. And, as one might expect, alcohol use among adult drivers accounts for a large chunk of injuries and deaths in child passengers. A 2014 study in Pediatrics tells the tale of just how deadly it can be for children when older teens and adults are drinking and driving:
During 2001–2010, 2344 children [less than] 15 years were killed in crashes involving at least 1 alcohol-impaired driver. Of these children, 1515 (65%) were riding with an impaired driver.
There is not doubt that properly buckling up young passengers can be the most important step in protecting them in case of an accident. Car seat safety begins at the time of purchase. Christie Haskell explains without mincing words:
I’ve written a ton about car seat safety. Many people do. This device is the only device you absolutely have to buy for a baby or your child can die. You can rig random things to function as child-proofing at home or pick up things from a garage sale, but when it comes to your car seat, it HAS to be new, it HAS to be good quality, it HAS to be the right seat for your child and you HAVE to use it right or your child can DIE. I don’t know that I can make it any clearer than that.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, most families with infants, when installing and using a car seat, make at least one error—and often many more.
“Car seats are more difficult to use than people give them credit for,” says Dr. Alisa Baer, a pediatrician and certified child passenger safety instructor. “Most parents don’t even read the instruction manual that comes with a car seat.”
How bad are we at installing and using car seats? These numbers may surprise you:
It was found that 95 percent of the families had made at least one serious error when using the car seat, and 91 percent made a very serious and life-threatening error. Only 15 percent had actually worked with a certified car safety technician, and 83 percent still had at least one error.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at ways to avoid those errors.