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.
Researchers observed nearly 22,000 children and found that just 3 percent of children between ages 1 and 3 who were restrained at all were sitting in a proper, rear-facing car seat [you can switch your child to a front-facing car seat at age 2 or when he reaches the seat's weight or height limit], and only 10 percent of 8- to 10-year-old children were properly restrained in a booster seat or a car seat.
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.
MSNBC.com has more: