Last week, our Chicago car accident attorneys read an article in the Los Angeles Times discussing child seat belt and safety seat use. In the article, it stated that kids who are minorities are less likely to wear seat belts or be secured in car seats, which can result in a higher risk for injuries due to car accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ conducted this study that looked at children 16 years old and younger. The study concluded that less than half of the children surveyed were in any form of restraint, which includes seat belts and safety seats. The study also showed that the Hispanics, Native American, and African American children had the lowest use of safety restraints.
Researchers involved in the study found that close to 13% of children injured in car accidents needed an emergency operation or medical attention, and the use seat belts and safety seats significantly lowered the risk of serious injuries. Although some states still do not have a mandatory seat belt law, seat belt use nationwide has increased, helping to reduce child fatalities in car accidents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children under the age of 8 years old must be in an appropriate safety seat for their age and size. A child 8 years or older in Illinois can use an adult seatbelt when they are heavier than 40 pounds and if they are sitting in the rear seat. When parents and guardians disobey these laws, there is a $75 fine for the first offense. The NHTSA also suggests that parents should choose a car seating system based on how it fits both the child, and the car it will be used in, and recommends that all children under the age of 13 years old should sit in the back seat of the car.
Sites like Safekids.org offer surprising statistics and tips for parents. The site reports a study that says “correctly used child safety seats are extremely effective and reduce the risk of death as much as 71%.” There are now plenty of resources for parents and families to use to learn more about how to protect their children in the event of a serious car accident. Along with websites like this that give statistics and guidelines for car seat use, many communities now offer car seat checkup events, where certified technicians and mechanics show parents safety tips and make sure that the car seat fits. In Chicago and throughout Illinois, there are a number of organizations that will inspect your car seat to make sure it is properly installed. In Chicago, this includes some police stations and the community education units of some fire departments.
Our Illinois car crash lawyers advise all parents to keep their children secured in safety seats at all times until they are of appropriate age and weight to sit in the backseat with a seat belt. Sitting in a proper fitting safety seat will not only reduce a child’s risk for serious injury should there be an accident, but can also provide peace of mind for the parent driver.