Motor Vehicle Safety (page 2)
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to children ages 2 to 14 and the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 2. When installed and used correctly, child safety seats and safety belts can prevent injuries and save lives. Young children restrained in child safety seats have an 80 percent lower risk of fatal injury than those who are unrestrained.
- Each year, an estimated 2,446 children ages 14 and under die in motor vehicle incident.
- In 2005, more than 1,400 child occupants (ages 0-14) died in motor vehicle crashes and nearly half were unrestrained. In the same year, 203,000 child occupants were injured.
- From 1999 to 2005, restraint use improved from 15 percent to 73 percent for children 0 to 8 years old.
- An estimated 1,700 children’s lives were saved between 1996 and 2002 due to being seated in a back seat.
- Children are more likely to be properly restrained when the driver is properly restrained.
Who is at Risk
- There are approximately 42 percent more fatal crashes in rural settings than urban ones. Crashes in rural areas tend to be more severe.
- African American children ages 4 to 7 have the lowest restraint use among children, an estimated 26 percent are not restrained while riding in a motor vehicle. Asian children have the highest restraint use, followed by white children, and then Hispanic children.
- There were 159 reported fatal injuries associated with airbag deployment that occurred between 1993 and
2002 for children 0 to 12 years of age. All of these children were either unrestrained or improperly restrained.
- Children 2 to 5 years of age who are prematurely in seat belts are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than those restrained in child safety seats or booster seats.
Child Restraint System Effectiveness
- Child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (less than 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars.
- Young children restrained in child safety seats have an 80 percent lower risk of fatal injury than those who are unrestrained.
- In the United States, a $46 child safety seat generates on average $1,900 in benefits to society. A $31 booster seat generates $2,200 in benefits to society.]
- The overall critical misuse for child restraints is about 73 percent. Infant seats have the highest percent of critical misuse, followed by rear-facing convertible seats.
- Ensure that every occupant is properly restrained for every ride.
- Always follow manufacturer’s instructions. Infants should ride in rear-facing child safety seats as long as possible (a minimum of 12 months old and 20 pounds).
- Correctly secure children that weigh between 20 and 40 pounds in a forward facing child safety seat. Always use the safety seat tether for optimal protection.
- Correctly secure children over 40 pounds in a booster seat or other appropriate child restraint until the adult lap and shoulder safety belts fit correctly (approximately 4’9” and 80-100 pounds, usually between 8 and 12 years of age).
- Return the product registration card provided for all new child safety seats to the manufacturer to ensure you will be notified of any recalls.
- Check www.recalls.gov to inquire about any recalls or safety notices on child safety seats. Avoid purchasing safety seats from yard sales, flea markets and second hand stores or when there is no known history of the seat.
Child Occupant Protection and Safety Restraint Use Laws
- All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child restraint laws. In 39 states and the District of Columbia, all children younger than 16 are covered by either safety belt laws or child restraint laws.
- As of November 2006, 38 states and the district of Columbia had upgraded their child restraint laws to require the use of booster seats or other appropriate child restraint device by children up to as old as 9.
- Laws regulating safety belt use in 25 states and the District of Columbia are standard, or primary, meaning police may stop vehicles solely for safety belt violations.
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