September is Child Passenger Safety Month, and one NMSU grad student, George Richards, is working on ways to combat a terrifying statistic that no driving parent wants to think about: Auto accidents are the number one cause of death to children ages 5-14 in the U.S.
The right child safety restraints could save many children who will be injured or killed in auto accidents this year. According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 38% of children killed in auto accidents in 2013 were not using seatbelts or proper car restraints.
The problem goes well beyond the issue of parents who don’t restrain their children at all. Research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has shown that children killed or hurt in auto accidents were often restrained improperly.
Common Mistakes with Child Restraints
Some studies estimate that nearly three-quarters of children using child restraints are not using them correctly. Parents traveling with children often make one of two common child-restraint mistakes that leave children at risk of danger in auto accidents:
- Prematurely “graduating” children to use of seatbelts
- Using a child restraint, but using it improperly
For example, many parents know that children under the age of two should be in a rear-facing car seat, but don’t realize that age is simply a rule of thumb; the child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the height or weight limits of the seat.
The same is true of each age group. Height and weight matter more than age in determining when a child graduates to a front-facing car seat, a booster seat, and finally, to a seat belt. Under no circumstances should a child under 57 inches in height be using a seat belt alone.
Educating to Save Lives
Richards, studying for a master’s in public safety, has designed and implemented a research project that he hopes will produce significant, measurable improvements in the Las Cruces area and help “boost” the proper use of child passenger safety seats in southern New Mexico, reducing auto accident injuries suffered by children locally.
A free clinic coordinated by Richards will offer child safety seat education on September 26, 2015, at the Anthony, NM, Fire Department, to those who need help selecting or using child restraint systems.
Of course, even the best use of the right child restraints can’t protect every child from harm suffered in an auto accident. No loss is more tragic than the loss of a child that has resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. If your child has been hurt or killed in an auto accident, you should seek competent, caring advice regarding your legal rights.
Contact the Law Office of Samuel I. Kane for compassionate help and a free initial consultation, when you need to know your rights and what you’re entitled to following a New Mexico auto accident. Call today (575) 526-5263.