Helpful Sites for Child Safety & Car Seats
Posted on February 12th, 2021 by Zane Cagle
Anyone that has kids or cares for kids knows how easily and quickly they can be hurt in normal day-to-day activities. Auto accidents are the top leading cause of death and injury for children. As a personal injury attorney, I see the injuries and deaths caused by auto accidents on a daily basis. Since I see the aftermath of car and truck accidents, I am extra careful about how my children travel. In reality, I am only their parent and often the driver of the car, and I cannot control other drivers’ behaviors or decisions. It is really quite scary when you really think about putting your child in the car with you. Yet, we do it every day because we have to!
When it comes to cars and children, one thing is a fact, child car safety seats save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when used and installed correctly, child safety seats effectively reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants (under age 1) and by 54 percent for toddlers (age 1-3) and children in boosters (age 4-9).
Shopping for Safe Child Car Seats
Recently, I have been researching and shopping for new car safety seats for my 2 yr-old and 4-yr old so I’ve been scanning many articles and reading about child car seats. I’ve read much on the topic before and seen the consequences of faulty car seats and it scares me to death. One of the sites that I visit frequently regarding all types of safety standards is the NHTSA. But I came across an interesting article from St. Louis Children’s Hospital. They quote the NHTSA and I found that this article answers some important questions. I am not saying this article answers all questions because if you are like me and shopping for car safety seats, it is one of the most important decisions you make and you should consult NUMEROUS sites and information sources.
If you have been in an auto accident, then you have experienced that dread of turning your head to see what has happened to your children in the backseat during the crash. Few things are more tragic than the loss of life due to negligent actions. At my house, we do not go down the street without the kids in car seats………it’s a pain, but having one of them hurt due to my laziness seems unimaginable. As I said, kids are easily hurt under the supervision of the best parents, so I am not saying that any child that is injured or killed in an auto accident was not correctly restrained—–that would be foolish. However, it is a proven fact that child car safety seats do decrease the chances of death and injury to children in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Another thing that I frequently forget about when traveling with my kids is to remove or tie down all of the extra stuff, or “loose items” in the car and to be sure that all luggage and baggage are secured. In the event of a car accident, umbrellas and toys can become very dangerous as they take flight in the car. These items can injure all occupants when they are put into motion. If you travel with kids, you know you have a lot of “stuff”….it’s required! How do you go anywhere without Sippy cups, snacks, toys, strollers, and packets of wipes? I have always joked that we could live off of the snacks in the car for a week if we were stranded. Kids = stuff. I often forget that all of that stuff needs to be secured. Takes a lot of time? Of course, but so does installing the child safety seats and buckling each child in every time. Often, many are tempted to just “run across the street” to the store and not worry about strapping the kids in, but most accidents happen within 5-10 miles of the home.
A rear-facing seat is designed to be rear-facing only and should be installed in the backseat of the vehicle. The car seat faces the rear in order to support the infant’s head, neck, and spine. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing safety seat until they are at least 2 yrs old or until they reach the maximum height/weight allowed by the seat’s manufacturer. When your infant’s weight or height exceeds the seat’s limits as stated by the manufacturer, child passenger safety experts recommend the use of a convertible seat that rear-faces to a higher weight and height. In the rear-facing position, the harness straps should be through slots that are at or below your child’s shoulders.
Personally, we left our 2 ½ yr old in a rear-facing as long as we could just short of exceeding the weight and height limit for the manufacturer seat. While you may want your child to rear-face, exceeding the recommended weight and height limits as stated by the manufacturer actually endangers your child. Read the manufactures directions and recommendations clearly before use.
Convertible Safety Seats
Convertible safety seats are designed to rear-face and forward-face. When your child reaches the weight or height limit allowed by the manufacturer of their infant seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat. Most convertible seats rear-face up to 35-40 pounds or 36 inches. The seat should be rear-facing until your child reaches the height or weight limit as stated by the manufacturer. Again, pay close attention to the manufacturer’s weight and height limits for the particular safety seat. As there are so many child safety seats, you want to be sure that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as those are the limits at which the child safety seat was studied and determined to be the safest.
Most child safety seats will hold your child in the harness until he/she reaches a weight of 40-50 pounds in the forward-facing position. It is recommended to keep him/her in the harness until he/she reaches the weight limit for the harness, unless his/her height exceeds the seat’s limit, she/he must be moved to a booster seat or to a seat with a higher height limit.
NHTSA and AAP recommend that children less than 4 feet 9 inches tall ride in a booster seat. Missouri and Illinois have booster seat laws. Regardless of the state that you live in, booster seats are the safest option for older children. Booster seats are designed to boost your child so that the vehicle’s safety belt system can fit their body.
High back booster seats provide head restraints for cars without built-in head restraints.
Graduation from a Booster Seat
Typically, children over 4 feet 9 inches and between the ages of 9 and 12 may be ready for the car’s safety belt system depending on their size and the type of car. One way to check is to place your child in the vehicle seat, sitting straight up, with his/her back to the car’s backseat. If he/she can bend their legs at a 90-degree angle at the edge of the seat, he/she is most likely about using the car’s seat belt system. You also have to consider if their feet touch the floor and if they are capable of sitting comfortably for long periods of time in the seat with their back to the seat. This will vary from child to child.
There are many sites and informational videos. Other sources for child safety recommendations are below:
Kids and Danger of Airbags
Airbags that save adult drivers and passengers can be extremely dangerous for children. Research the vehicle that you intend to purchase or have purchased to find out what kind of airbags it has. Also, children should never ride in the front seat whether there are airbags or not. Airbags inflate with great force, faster than the blink of an eye. The impact can severely injure or kill an infant. While you want airbags in your vehicle, newer models have specifically designed airbags for the back seat to decrease injury and make the passengers, including children safer. All of this information is online.
The safety of your child rests on you. It’s a huge challenge! Daily, it seems my kids nearly risk life and limb during playtime. Like all other parents, I have safety proofed the drawers, lids, doors, outlets, and any other door or lid I can find in the house; but somehow the little people can find the only nick in the armor—part of their curious nature. Kids and Band-Aids seem to go together, but seeing one in a hospital bed after a car accident leaves an impression that you will not soon forget. So research your child safety seats and know that the one you start out with will be outgrown. Child car safety seats are expensive but worth every penny.
If you or a loved one has been in an auto accident and is seriously injured, then you need legal representation. At The Cagle Law Firm, we represent clients who are seriously injured. Our attorneys are available seven (7) days a week to give you information. I talk with accident victims in St Louis every day and not all need an attorney. Each one I talk to is concerned about how his or her accident will impact the rest of their life. In some cases, they are concerned with how their accident will impact their families. Seriously injured victims are victims who have a life-changing injury.
Call at (314) 276-1681.