A new study has found that children in non-white families are less likely to be placed in age- and size-appropriate car seats and boosters. More on the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, from Reuters:
“We expected that differences in family income, parental education, and sources of information would explain the racial disparities in age-appropriate restraint use and they did not,” lead author Dr. Michelle L. Macy told Reuters Health by email.
Certain parents may face barriers to car seat and booster seat use that researchers haven’t discovered yet, Macy, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said. Or social norms could explain the differences between racial groups.
The new study took place in Michigan, where state law requires that children under four use a car seat and kids four to seven use a car seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.
Experts generally recommend older kids under that height keep using a booster seat as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says all kids under 13 should ride only in the back seat.
The new study was based on surveys of 600 parents of kids ages one to 12.
Close to 3 percent of kids under age four ever sat in the front seat, compared to 10 percent of kids ages four to seven and 34 percent of kids ages eight to 12, according to findings published in Pediatrics.
Among four- to seven-year-olds, twice as many non-white kids sat in the front seat as white kids. For the other age groups, there was no difference based on race.
Across the board, white parents were between three and four times more likely to report using age-appropriate seats for their children than non-white parents.
Parents’ education and income didn’t explain the racial differences in seat use, and all parents got their child safety information from similar sources.
Parents most often learned to use car seats by reading the instruction manual or “just figuring it out.” They sought child car safety information from friends, family, doctors or nurses. The most common source of information was the Internet, which was used more often by white parents.
A new study has found that most American children are either improperly restrained in child car seats, or they are allowed to sit in the front seat, in defiance of government car safety recommendations. MSNBC.com has more:
The difficulty people have in adhering to car safety regulations may show how dramatically they’ve changed in recent years, said the study’s author, Dr. Michelle Macy, of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “For parents, it’s not anything they would have done as kids,” she said.
In the U.S., car crashes are the leading cause of death for children over age 3, however, and more than 140,000 children go to emergency rooms each year as a result of accidents. Properly seating a child in a car seat or booster seat, and in the back seat, reduces the risk of injury or death, but many parents don’t follow the guidelines, the researchers said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has unveiled a new crash test dummy meant to test child booster seats and restraints for children weighing more than 65 pounds. The move comes in advance of the 2014 implementation of new car safety guidelines, and with the introduction of a number of new booster seats and other safety devices aimed at children from ages 8-12.
“It’s good news that manufacturers are making more car seats and boosters than ever before designed to keep older and heavier children safer on our roadways,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
“As the marketplace evolves to accommodate changing consumer needs, it’s important that safety regulators also have the best tools possible for evaluating how well these products work. The new test dummy breaks new ground for the department’s crash test program and is a significant step forward for evaluating child seat performance.”
The test dummy, known in government speak as the “Hybrid III 10-year-old child test dummy (HIII-10C),” weighs 35 kilograms (78 pounds) and will be used to check child seats and safety restraint systems, for children weighing between 66 and 80 pounds, in crash tests.
The government began requiring tests of child seats in 1979 with a 6-month-old child and a 3-year-old child, and has expanded the number and sizes of crash test dummies as new state-of-the-art models have become available, NHTSA said. But previous child dummies were limited to dummies representing 6-year-olds.