Parents Risking Injuries and Deaths Because Babies and Children are Not Buckled in Properly

July 11th, 2017 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Newborns and babies have no control over their lives, as any Kentucky parent can attest. They need constant care, cleaning, feeding and attention. One thing they definitely can’t do, and many parents aren’t willing or able to do, is to make sure their car seats are properly buckled into the vehicles in which they travel.

Car seats and booster seats are designed to protect babies and young children from injuries due to accidents. But there are no such protections if they’re not used; and even if they are, those protections may fail if the seat isn’t correctly secured in the vehicle.

Below, you’ll see how you might be able to better protect your child and properly install a safety seat. First, let’s look at how serious the problem is in Kentucky.

Improper Use of Child Car Seats

Unintentional injury is the leading killer of infants and children in the country, and vehicle accidents are the top cause of injury. There are estimates that as many as 95% of families are not installing car seats correctly, with nearly 75% of parents putting in car seats in the wrong way and failing to put children in booster seats as recommended, according to the Huffington Post. A new study shows why this is a problem.

A recent article in The Journal of Pediatrics lists factors that can increase the chances of a child’s being killed in a car crash. The findings are based on a review of four years’ worth of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • From 2010 to 2014, there were 18,116 children younger than 15 years old involved in fatal vehicle accidents.
  • 20% of child passengers were incorrectly buckled in or were not using any kind of restraint.
  • Almost 16% of these children were killed in vehicle accidents.
  • 43% of children who were killed in accidents were not restrained or were not restrained correctly.
  • 13% were seated in the vehicle’s front seat, which is not where they should have been.

According to the report, during the period 457 children were involved in vehicle accidents in Kentucky and 73 were killed.

Child fatalities varied based on the location in the country. Most children killed in vehicle accidents were in the South (52%), followed by the West (21%), Midwest (19%) and Northeast (7.5%). The vehicle crash-related mortality rate per 100,000 children ranged from 0.25 per 100,000 in Massachusetts to 3.2 per 100,000 in Mississippi. Kentucky was at 1.71, nearly twice the national average of 0.94. Only ten states had a worse mortality rate than Kentucky.

About 20% of children killed in vehicle accidents throughout the country were unrestrained or incorrectly restrained, that percentage varied widely.

  • The lowest, 2%, was in New Hampshire; and the highest was 38% in Mississippi.
  • About 16% of Kentucky children killed in vehicle crashes were improperly restrained or were not restrained at all. That comes to 12 children who may be alive today if they had been properly buckled in.
  • Of the 16 states listed as southern states, only two had a lower rate (15%, Maryland and North Carolina) and one other state had the same rate (Florida).
  • Overall for the region, about 23% of children killed in accidents were unrestrained or improperly restrained.

Kentucky parents are letting their kids down if they don’t restrain their infants and children properly while riding in a vehicle. Deaths due to lack of proper restraint are preventable, and families are missing children because adults didn’t do the right thing.

How You Can Make Sure You Install a Car Seat Properly

Here are a few things to keep in mind when installing a child car seat…

  • First and foremost, always follow the manufacturer’s directions when installing a child safety seat.
  • Make sure the seat is designed to accommodate the weight and size of your child.
  • If a safety seat was involved in a crash, destroy the seat immediately and get a new one.
  • Most seats will come with instructions regarding the placement of the seat, though most will be placed in the rear seat and many will need to be facing the rear. That’s why it’s so important to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Always fill out the registration card that comes with the seat so you will be notified of any recalls.

Fortunately, the Lexington Fire Department offers free training to parents on how to properly install a seat. You can schedule a training session at one of several fire station locations.

If you or a family member has been injured in a vehicle accident in Kentucky, you can rely on the Julie Butcher Law Office, which has extensive experience handling the claims of those injured in vehicle accidents. Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of your case and how we might help your family obtain compensation for your injuries.