Ensuring Your Infants, Tweens, and Young Adults Remain Safe on Colorado Roads
We are in the middle of Child Safety Passenger Week, which focuses on keeping young passengers safe while in a vehicle, but the goal of safety should be an issue year-round, especially when it comes to those who rely on adults to keep them safe.
Proper Car Seat Installation Is Critical in the Event of an Auto Accident
According to a 2015 National Safety Council study, 1,346 children, those under the age of 15, were killed in car accidents. That translates to more than three children a day involved in fatal crashes. A recent report by the Journal of Pediatrics notes that the main reason for these deaths is the lack of or proper installation of child car seats for young children and the non-use of seatbelts for older kids. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car seats can reduce the risk of infant deaths when involved in a car accident by 71 percent. Car seats also reduce the risk of children ages 1-4 by 54 percent if properly restrained.
Adults and child caretakers must properly restrain children in vehicles every time they are placed in a car. A recent study, however, resulted in an alarming conclusion. Researchers with the Journal of Pediatrics observed 300 parents and their newborns; 95 percent of them made at least one major mistake when installing a car seat or positioning their infant in the car seat.
Out of 300 parents, only 15 correctly installed the car seat and properly positioned their infant in the car seat, two things that must happen to keep your baby from getting injured. What made this study even more jaw-dropping was that half of those observed had other children so this was not the first time they were installing a car seat. According to Parents magazine, a few of the most common mistakes when using car seats include:
- Placing a car seat in the front seat of the vehicle
- Using the wrong latches to secure the seat and not tightening the seat enough, so it doesn’t move around
- Placing the harness straps too high when fitting your child into the car seat
- Adding padding or pads to the straps that prevent you from tightening the straps properly
There were also mistakes in the positioning of a car seat as the child grows and knowing when to transition from a car seat to a booster seat for older children. Thankfully the Colorado Department of Transportation has set up Inspections Stations where parents can learn how to properly install child safety seats and other vital information to secure them.
Teenage Car Safety Is a Major Concern
Properly restraining children who are unable to do it themselves remains critical. But what happens when a child becomes a teenager and is therefore responsible for their own car safety? The CDC notes that car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers. Teens and young adults tend not to fasten their seatbelts, resulting in thousands of deaths. In 2015, more than 2300 teens were killed in car accidents, and more than 221,000 were injured. 53 percent of the teens killed were not wearing a seatbelt.
In Colorado, the most recent report on young car crash fatalities notes that from 2010 – 2014, 221 motor vehicle deaths involved those ages 0 -17. Those 15-17 years old had the highest number of deaths followed by children 1-3 years old. As noted in the report, seatbelt use or child restraints are the most effective way to increase safety and reduce deaths and injuries related to car accidents. There should never be an excuse for not buckling up or not properly restraining a young child while in the car.