Greater parent awareness and stringent enforcement have led to an increase in the rates of child safety restraint usage; not just in Indiana, but across the country. However, despite the fact that more children are now being restrained safely in child car seats, booster seats, and seat belts, there are still far too many children being killed in accidents every year.
Auto accidents are the number one cause of unintentional deaths in children below the age of 15. Over the past five years or so, the number of car accident deaths of children has been dipping, thanks to increased car seat and seat belt usage. According to new data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of accident-related fatalities involving children below the age of 12 dipped by 43% during the 2002-2011 period.
However, the number of children killed in car accidents during the same period of time actually crossed 9,000. Many of those fatalities involved children who were not restrained properly.
The data indicates that while child car seat usage rates have increased, and more children are now restrained safely, there are large populations of children that are not safely restrained when traveling by car. The failure to safely restrain the children greatly increases their risk of being killed or sustaining serious injuries in an accident. Safety experts agree that when it comes to car accident fatalities for children, most deaths could have been prevented if the child had been safely restrained in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seat, or seat belts.
Car seat usage rates seem to be especially low among certain categories. For instance, children born to black and Hispanic parents seem to have much lower rates of child car seat usage. The reasons for these could be economic in nature. A good quality child car seat manufactured by a reputed company can be expensive, and parents may decide to forgo this expense altogether. In other cases, the child restraint is a used, secondhand model or one that is of questionable quality. It is important to restrain a child in a car seat that is manufactured by a reputed manufacturer, and meets all safety standards. Very often, used car seats, or those that are sold online, in thrift stores, or discount stores, may have defects or may have been recalled earlier. That means that these car seats simply do not meet safety standards, and may not protect children in an accident. Low-income parents may be more inclined to purchase such seats, not realizing the dangers involved.
Meanwhile, the dangers to children passengers continue unabated. In 2011, more than 650 children below the age of 12 died in car accidents, amounting to approximately a dozen fatalities every week.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured in car accidents across Indiana.