Posts Tagged ‘ car safety ’

Father Charged with Murder in Toddler’s Death in a Hot Car

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

A Georgia man whose 22-month-old son died after allegedly having been accidentally left too long in a hot car has been charged with murder after police discovered evidence that he may have knowingly left the child strapped in his seat for hours on a day when the temperature topped out at 92 degrees.  Justin Ross Harris, the arrest warrant alleges, strapped his son Cooper into his rear-facing car seat after they ate breakfast at a fast food restaurant.

Harris allegedly then drove to work at a Home Depot corporate office about a half-mile away, leaving Cooper in the car until his lunch break, at which point he reportedly visited the car to put something in the front seat.  Just after 4 pm, he returned to the car and left work.  Moments later, he pulled into a shopping center parking lot and called for help with Cooper, who had been in the car for seven hours by that point.  The child was pronounced dead at the scene.

The story was first reported as an accidental death–and a horrifying cautionary tale for harried parents who read accounts that Harris had simply forgotten to drop Cooper off at day care.  But further investigation led to the felony murder and child cruelty charges, as CNN.com reports:

“Within moments of the first responders getting to the scene and doing their job and questions began to be asked about the moments that led up to their arrival at the scene, some of those answers were not making sense to the first responders,” [Sgt. Dana] Pierce [of the Cobb County police] said.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 34 years. What I know about this case shocks my conscience as a police officer, a father and a grandfather.”

Last week, Harris pleaded not guilty to felony murder and child cruelty charges. He’s being held without bond at the Cobb County Jail and is scheduled to appear before a county judge July 3.

Cooper’s mother, Leanna Harris, told CNN last week that she’s been advised not to discuss the case with the media.

“We have been in communication with the mother throughout the investigation. At this time, I’m not at liberty to discuss her involvement. That’s a part of the case our detectives are working on,” Pierce said.

Cobb County Medical Operations Manager Mike Gerhard confirmed that the autopsy of the child is complete, but the boy’s manner of death has not been released.

Forty-three children died from being left too long in hot cars in 2013, Parents magazine reports, and children are at greater risk than adults of overheating in a car because internal cooling systems–chiefly through sweat–are not as quick to react as adults’.

Click here to read 7 tips for ensuring you never forget your child in a hot car, including practicing extra vigilance when you are starting a new routine, and adopting a “Look Before You Lock” habit whenever you leave your car.  The Parents report also shares how quickly temperatures can rise inside a closed vehicle even on a day when the weather is relatively mild:

This is how quickly the temperature inside a vehicle rises on a 70°F day, based on research by Jan Null, department of earth and climate sciences, San Francisco State University. Null also found that keeping the windows open slightly had little effect and that car interiors with darker colors heat up faster.

After 10 minutes = 89°F

After 20 minutes = 99°F

After 30 minutes = 104°F

After 60 minutes = 113°F

After 2 hours = 120°F

Image: Car door, via Shutterstock

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Britain Will Ban Smoking in Cars That Carry Kids

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Citing research on the health risks children face due to consistent exposure to second-hand smoke, British politicians have approved legislation that would prohibit adults from smoking in cars where children travel.  More from Reuters:

The move comes after lobbying from health campaigners and the opposition Labour party, who cited research showing that smoking in cars exposed children to more concentrated smoke and caused health problems.

The government confirmed it would seek to implement a ban before an election in May next year, after lawmakers voted on Monday to give ministers the power to bring in the measure.

“The intention is for the secondary regulations to be in force ahead of May 2015,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said on Tuesday. “There is a particular issue around vehicles being a particularly confined space and the associated public health concerns.”

The ban has been criticized by some parliamentarians and lobbyists as an intrusion on individual freedoms.

Last year, Massachusetts considered legislation to ban smoking in cars where children travel, and committees are still debating the measure.

Image: Adult smoking in a car, via Shutterstock

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Car Seats Remain Dangerously Underused, Study Finds

Monday, February 10th, 2014

A third of children who died in car accidents in 2011 were not properly restrained in car seats or age-appropriate boosters or buckles, a new study published in the Morbility and Mortality Weekly Report has found.  The New York Times has more:

More than 9,000 children under 12 died in motor vehicle accidents from 2002 to 2011, in many cases because they were not properly restrained in child seats or seatbelts.

Though the death rate decreased over those years, to 1.2 per 100,000 children in 2011 from 2.2 in 2002, seatbelts would have saved many more lives, according to a study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2011, 33 percent of children who died in motor vehicle accidents were not buckled in. While only 2 percent of children under age 1 rode unrestrained, 22 percent of those in that age group who died were unbuckled. An estimated 3,308 children under 4 are alive today because they were properly buckled in.

In 2009-10, there were no differences in death rates by age or sex, but black children had a death rate about 46 percent higher than Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.

Another recent study also found that car seat safety practices differ among racial and ethnic groups, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced new safety standards that would protect children in side-impact crashes, a common scenario for car accidents involving children.

Wondering if your car seat is appropriate and safe for your child?  Check out Parents.com’s 6 smart car seat safety rulesOr click here for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on car safety for newborns through 13-year-olds.

How is your child’s growth and development compared to others the same age? Check our growth chart to help estimate her percentiles.

Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake
Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake
Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake

Image: Child in a car seat, via Shutterstock

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New Car Seat Safety Standards Would Require Side-Impact Protection

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Car seat manufacturers may soon have to protect children from injury or death in a side-impact collision if new government regulations are accepted.  Side-impact crashes claim at least five kids’ lives each year and injure more than 60.

The new set of safety standards were proposed Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and they would require that car seats meant for children weighing up to 40 pounds pass a first-of-its-kind side-impact collision test that will hopefully reduce the force of impact on the head and chest.

In the test, a vehicle traveling 30 miles an hour will strike the side of a small passenger vehicle that is traveling 15 miles an hour.  The scenario, known as a “T-Bone” collision, is a common one at the scenes of side-impact accidents–the Associated Press reports that research finds most side-impact crashes happen when one car is stopped at or moving slowly through an intersection when another car, which is traveling at a higher speed, hits it as it drives on the cross street.

The new safety test will be conducted with the car seats mounted to special sleds rather than secured in actual cars, officials said, because the goal is to learn the safety of the seats, not of the cars the seats are placed in. Another innovation is that the NHTSA hopes to subject a new crash test dummy to the simulation, meant to resemble a 3-year-old child.  A dummy resembling a 12-month-old baby is already approved by the agency and is set to be included in the tests. Even though the majority of car seats already meet mandatory safety standards to guard against front-impact collisions, says David Friedman, deputy administrator of NHTSA, the tests will help determine more ways car seats can protect the head and torso against side-impact collisions. Safety 1st will also “continue to work with vehicle manufactures to advance seat-t0-seat compatibility and car-seat installation and safety,” says Julie Vallese, a consumer safety expert.

The announcement of the new standards is only the first step toward its acceptance and implementation.  The first step is a 90-day period during which the public has a chance to comment on the proposal on www.regulations.gov (follow the site directions for commenting).  After that, the agency will review the proposal in light of the comments, making any adjustments it deems necessary–a process that can take months or even years, though the NHTSA says it hopes to move more quickly than that.  Finally, once the agency’s regulations are final, car seat manufacturers will have three years to implement the new rules and meet the new standards. Some manufacturers also anticipate that “stronger, energy-absorbing materials will be added to the car seat,” says Allana Pinkerton, a global safety expert for DIONO, which will contribute greatly to “reducing injuries and death” and protecting kids on the road.

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How To Install A Car Seat
How To Install A Car Seat
How To Install A Car Seat

Updated 1/23: We replaced the image of the child in a car seat on this post after several readers pointed out that the previous image showed a child wearing winter coat. Bulky coats should be removed before a child is strapped into a car seat.

Image: Boy in a car seat, via Shutterstock

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Car Seat Safety Practices Differ Among Racial Groups

Friday, January 17th, 2014

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.

Image: Baby in car seat, via Shutterstock

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