The statistics are alarming. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 in the United States. In 2016, 35% of kids who died in crashes were not restrained at all. Even among parents who do use car seats and other restraints for their young children, misuse is rampant. An estimated 72% to 84% of kids are not properly buckled into correctly installed seats appropriate for their age and size. This is startlingly incongruous with another stat: 96% of parents say they believe their children’s seats are installed the right way. This ignorance puts young lives in danger — across Texas and the entire country.
The good news: Texas lawmakers, led by representative Chris Turner of North Texas, are taking steps to update state law regarding child safety seats, a move that will give parents in the state more specific guidelines on restraining their children and hopefully bring attention to this critical issue.
How Child Restraints Are Misused
Passing a bill will go only so far in keeping Texas children safe on the roads. It will not help parents who’ve unknowingly kept their child in a seat past the recommended size, or who’ve installed it incorrectly.
As any parent will tell you, car seats are difficult. They are bulky, heavy, and tough to wrangle in the confined space of the back seat. Installation instructions may be inadequate or unclear. They are expensive, making it tempting for moms and dads to buy them second-hand. And anyone who forgets to register their restraint with the manufacturer may miss critical recalls.
Keep Your Child Safe in the Car
We know that you care about your children’s safety in the car. Here are a few recommendations for making sure they are properly restrained.
- Educate yourself on the types of seats and which are appropriate for your kids. The CDC has an excellent guide if you aren’t sure.
- Read installation instructions carefully. Many manufacturers offer video tutorials online.
- If you aren’t sure whether you’ve installed the seat correctly (or even if you believe you have), get expert advice. Contact a certified child passenger safety technician or find an inspection station. These services are usually free.
- Don’t purchase a used restraint. Car seats have expiration dates due to degradation of materials. And you have no way of knowing whether it’s been involved in an accident, which may compromise its effectiveness.
- All kids under the age of 12 should ride exclusively in the back seat.
- Make car seat use a habit, no matter how short the trip.
- Set a good example by buckling in yourself.
- Stay on top of recalls. Be sure to register your seat with the manufacturer as soon as you receive it, and check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list of recalls periodically.
Ensuring your kids are properly buckled in for every car ride will go far in keeping them safe. But if your child has been injured in an accident, call the Texas car accident lawyers at the Evans & Herlihy Law Firm to schedule a consultation.