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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Three types of devices designed to alert parents if they have left their babies strapped into car seats are not reliable, a new government report has found. The Washington Post reports on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s findings:
The performance of the devices — one that relies on a chest buckle sensor and two that use seat pads — is too inconsistent, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.
“These sense the presence of a child; they just don’t do it reliably enough,” said Kristy B. Arbogast, a researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who tested the devices for the federal agency.
“While these devices are very well intended and we do appreciate the manufacturers and inventors, we have found a number of limitations in these devices,” NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland said. “We don’t think they can be used as the only countermeasure to make sure that you don’t forget your child behind in a car.”
The three devices are the Suddenly Safe Pressure Pad, the ChildMinder Smart Clip System and the ChildMinder Smart Pad. There was no immediate response from the three manufacturers.
The NHTSA report said that, in some cases, spilled liquids caused malfunctions, cellphone use interfered with device signals, devices turned off and on during travel and an improperly positioned child caused seat pads to malfunction.
“In sum, the devices require considerable effort from the parent/caregiver to ensure smooth operation,” the report said.