Motor vehicle collisions have the potential to cause
serious injury to passengers of all ages. However, children are among the most vulnerable
to injury in traffic-related accidents. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC)
auto accidents are the leading cause of fatal injuries for children between the ages
of five and 19 years of age. Even if children survive a car accident,
the CDC further reports that approximately 150 children in the United
States require treatment in hospital emergency rooms every hour due to
injuries suffered in auto accidents. Because of the high risk of injury
to children in traffic collisions, every parent, guardian, or other adult
driver should understand how to keep children safe in the car.
Ride in the Back Seat
Getting permission to ride in the front seat of a vehicle has always been
a rite of passage of sorts. In recent years, however, research has shown
that no child should receive this privilege until at least the age of
12 or 13, depending on their size. The front passenger seat is equipped
with powerful front and often side airbags that should deploy in the event
of a collision. Airbags deploy with enough force to regularly injure an
adult’s face, arms, or chest. These injuries may substantially increase
if the front passenger is a small child, and many small children have
died from airbag deployment. For this reason, you should always buckle
your child in the back seat. Furthermore, the middle of the back seat
is the safest location in the car, as such positioning may prevent injuries
in the event of broadside accidents.
Choose the Correct Car Seat
Just like clothes or shoes, children will outgrow car seats as they age.
All parents should be aware of the weight and height limits on the particular
model of car seat they choose in order to maximize the safety protections
for their child. Generally speaking, however, the following are some examples
of car seats that are appropriate for certain ages:
Rear-facing seat — Up until the age of two (or until a child surpasses height and
weight limits), you should always secure your child in the back seat in
a rear-facing car seat. Never, under any circumstances, should you use
a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a car with airbags.
Front-facing seat – Once your child outgrows a rear-facing car seat (generally around
age two), you should switch them into a car seat that faces forward. Children
should remain in this seat until they surpass the height and weight limits
of your particular model, which is often around age five.
Booster seat — In the past, once a child outgrew a car seat, parents simply buckled
them in without any additional equipment. However, studies showed that
standard seat belts can cause harm to a child if they do not fit properly.
On a smaller child, a seat belt will often stretch across their stomachs
(instead of the upper thighs as intended) and their neck (instead of the
chest). As you can imagine, if the belt tightens in a collision, the belt
can cause severe injury to the child.
These are only a few safety tips for keeping your child safe in the car.
If you or your child has suffered injury, call the Atlanta office of Goldstein
& Hayes, P.C.for assistance today.