Attorney David I. Fuchs
Mar. 20, 2018
Auto accidents are a leading cause of serious injury and death in children. Children are more at risk of catastrophic and fatal injuries compared to adults, especially when improperly strapped into a child safety seat. In 2015, 663 children under the age of 13 died in car accidents. Of these children, 35% did not use car seats or seatbelts. Certain actions parents can take help keep kids in cars safe. Knowing the risks and how to reduce them can help you and your family arrive alive.
The number one way to keep your child from suffering fatal injuries in a motor vehicle crash is to strap him or her in the correct safety seat. Using the wrong type of seat or installing it incorrectly can result in injuries as if your child wasn’t in a safety seat at all. It’s important to know which seat to use and how to place it into your vehicle. By age and size, here are the correct types of car seats:
Always refer to the manual of your car seat to find out the upper weight or height limit of the seat. Obey these limits, not your child’s age alone. Do not remove the booster seat and rely only on a seatbelt until the belt fits around the child’s hips and shoulders properly. The recommended height for seatbelt use is 57 inches. Children under the age of 13 should never ride in the front seat, for risk of airbag injuries. Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag. Buckle up every person in the car, every ride!
Preventing an accident from happening is always better than picking up the pieces afterward. As a driver, it’s your duty to pay close attention to the road at all times. Reduce the risk of distractions while toting your kids around by using a hands-free device for emergencies only. Don’t text, eat, drink, or chat with passengers while driving. In 2015, 3,477 people died and 391,000 suffered injuries in distraction-related car accidents. Don’t let you or your child become a statistic.
If your vehicle has the option, child-safety lock the windows while driving. Power windows have enough strength to strangle a child whose head is out the window or fracture bones such as in the fingers. Stay in control of the power windows if possible or enforce a rule of no playing with the windows or sticking limbs out while in the car.
Florida is second in the country (behind Texas) for the number of hot-car deaths. In 2017, 83 children died in Florida from heatstroke after being in hot vehicles too long. Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, no matter the temperature or how long you’ll be gone. On hot days, however, the risk of death significantly increases. Hot car deaths are 100% preventable.
Follow these four tips to greatly improve your child’s odds of staying safe, happy, and healthy while in the car.