Most kids are unsafe when riding in cars, at least according to a study published last month by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Apparently, there are multiple factors that contribute to this phenomenon. For one, many children ride in the front seat before they are old enough to do so. However, there is a common misconception about age as the determinant in prohibiting children from riding in the front seat. As our Chicago car accident attorneys understand it, the real issue has to do with height and weight, whereas young children are often not tall or heavy enough to ride in the front. Further, many children are not properly restrained in car or booster seats.
Our Illinois car accident lawyers found the reasoning in the study to be well supported. The study, which observed 22,000 children, found that “just 3 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 3 who were restrained at all were sitting in a proper, rear facing car seat, and only 10 percent of 8- to 10-year old children were properly restrained in a booster seat or a car seat.”
A Fox News article on the study also explains the complicated role of regulations in this issue. According to the study’s leading doctor at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, the ongoing changes to regulations make it difficult for people to adhere to car safety regulations. Today’s parents did not grow up with the most current regulations, so they are often unfamiliar with them. Even concerned parents who attempt to stay current on the latest regulations often get confused due to the frequent changes.
Interestingly enough, compliance with the more lax regulations was often lower than the newer, stricter regulations. Regardless, compliance is still lacking. For example, only 2 percent of kids over the age of 7 were in a booster seat and a whopping quarter of kid’s ages 8 to 10 sit in the front seat of the car.
It is a shame that these laws are not followed more rigorously. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. children over the age of 3, and emergency rooms admit more than 140,000 children a year as a result of such accidents. Our Chicago car accident lawyers recognize the life saving importance of such laws and strongly urge parents to pay closer attention to these laws to protect their children.
So what can concerned parents do? According to the study, buying car seats with the highest maximum weight limit means longer use. This means that children will remain safely in the booster seat until they reach a higher weight, and therefore are older when the graduate out of the booster seat. Additionally, make sure to follow current regulations and recommendations. AAP recommendations suggest that “until age 2, children should sit in rear-facing seats, and children over age 2 should sit in front-facing seats with harnesses until their weight and height exceeds the car seat’s capacity. Then a booster seat should be used until a child is 5 feet tall…Kids shouldn’t sit in the front seat until they’re 13 years old.”