Not only are car crashes and motor vehicle accidents the number one killer of children in the United States today, a new study released by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that more than 33% of these children (13 years old and under) were in these accidents and NOT wearing seat belts or setting in car seats.
Statistics show that every day in this country, two kids under the age of 13 die and another 340 are seriously injured in traffic accidents where they are vulnerable little passengers in cars, minivans, pickup trucks, or family SUVs. And the bigger the vehicle, apparently, the higher the likelihood that the child is not safely restrained in a car seat or seat belt:
- SUVs (55% of 2011 child deaths)
- Pick-Up Trucks (43% of 2011 child deaths)
- Vans (40% of 2011 child deaths)
- Passenger Cars / Sedans (24% of 2011 child deaths).
“Regardless of the size of the vehicle, the age of the child or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained in a car seat, booster or seat belt,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Car seats, when correctly installed and used, provide proven life-saving and injury-reducing benefits for child passengers.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 180,000 children will be hurt in traffic accidents and motor vehicle accidents in this country and over 800 kids will die, all simply from being passengers in a car, truck, van, or SUV that is involved in a traffic accident.
These numbers do not include teenagers. The CDC reports that Motor Vehicle Accidents are also the Number One Killer of children between the ages of 15-19 in this country; 2500 kids between 15 and 19 died in car crashes in 2011 and another 360,000 were seriously injured.
These statistics are shocking, particularly when seat belts and car seats are readily available today. Parents should be aware of these real dangers to their children, especially their young kids — not only for when they are driving the kids around, but when parents entrust their children to caregivers, coaches, school van drivers, church van drivers, nannies, teachers, family members, friends, and ex-spouses.
Anyone who is taking a child in their vehicle with them on the road would be wise to follow the following suggestions from NHTSA – especially those for whom there is a legal duty to protect and keep safe children placed into their care:
- Determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size;
- Read the instructions and labels that come with your child’s car seat and read the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle;
- Go to your local car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician;
- Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install your car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats;
- Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model; and
- Always wear your seat belt to set a good example. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.