Every year, about 6 million auto accidents occur across the United States, resulting in some three million driver and passenger injuries annually. The unfortunate reality of car accident injuries is that two-thirds of the victims affected will be dealing with the physical toll for the rest of their lives.
When it comes to minors and child passengers, the deleterious effects of motor vehicle collisions are even greater. Despite significant advances in the fields of automotive safety and technology, automobiles continue to be the leading cause of death among adolescents in the U.S, and contribute to roughly 150,000 serious injuries. Still, parents can play an active and impactful role in the roadway safety of their children right from the start by instilling respect for the responsibilities and hazards that come with driving or riding in a car.
Educate Yourself First-The automotive world has changed a great deal in a short time, so don’t rely on your previous notions of safe and unsafe driving practices (for example, we used to think that hands-free cellphone devices were safer than talking on a phone normally while driving, but this has sense been proven to be false).
Buy the Right Car Seat-As tempting as it can be when on a budget, never buy a used car seat unless you are fully aware of its crash history and usage (such as from a family member or close friend). Worn car seats, or used safety devices that have been involved in a crash must never be reused. Additionally, nearly 75% of all car seats are either incorrectly used or improperly installed; having the proper information to install and use a car seat for your child’s specific height and weight can be the crucial difference that saves their life if the unthinkable should happen.
Keep Yourself Educated, Even After Buying a Car Seat-Auto design defects and other problems put children at risk, and no matter how much research you do before you purchase a car seat, it won’t matter if you fail to act on recall data or other pertinent safety findings. This also means closely monitoring the weight and height of your children, and replacing safety devices as needed.
Be a Role Model (Wear Your Seatbelt!-A multitude of research studies have corroborated the fact that when adults wear their seatbelts, their kids are much more likely to wear their own seat belts. You might not think your child is old enough to form life-long habits at just 1-2 years old, but infants and young children are like sponges, absorbing new information and mimicking the behavior they see around them. More times than not, this means that mom and dad are their primary role models, whose responsible behavior behind the wheel can be a life long benefit (or detriment) to their habits and safety.
Adjust Your Approach Once Your Kids Start Driving-Once your child grows into a teen and begins driving, set specific ground rules and restrictions, and hold them accountable if these guidelines are violated. Maintain an open and upfront dialogue between you and your kids explaining your rationale for imposing these limits, and discussing how these limits are meant to help them avoid different risk factors like distracted (limiting number of kids a new driver can transport) and drunk driving (limiting how late your child can be out driving). This will allow your child to gain an understanding of these issues on their own terms, making them more likely to make safe driving decisions in their future. (Safe Kids Worldwide – Children’s National Medical Center)
Our lawyers at Levin & Perconti have successfully handled a number of personal injury lawsuits involving children, and we know how trying they can be for the whole family. If your child has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, we will help you explore your legal options and ensure that all the needs of your family are handled quickly and appropriately.