43 Percent Of Kids Who Die In Car Crashes Aren’t Buckled In Properly

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
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Proper car seat usage makes a huge difference for kids involved in accidents

A new study brings us some troubling stats about kids and car seat safety. Twenty percent of kids involved in a fatal car crash weren’t properly buckled in or weren’t wearing a seatbelt at all, as well as 43 percent of children who themselves died in an accident.

Basically, the next time you see someone getting picky on Facebook photos about a mom friend’s car seat strap placement, hear them out. Because proper car seat usage is a crucial factor in whether a child lives or dies in a car crash.

The study, from The Journal of Pediatrics, shows how crash statistics vary widely by state, strengthening the argument that kids could be better off in certain regions with stronger laws. For example, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that seat belt use is higher for people of all ages in states where seat belt laws are more strict. This particular study examines factors at the state-level to see where laws might improve outcomes for kids involved in car accidents.

The part of the country with the worst statistics for kids is the southern states with 52 percent of children involved in a fatal crash living in the south.

An author of the study, Dr. Faisal Qureshi, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is hoping the findings will motivate states to improve the strength of their car safety regulations. “The significant state-level variation evident in our findings emphasizes the need for close collaboration between the injury prevention community and those enacting and enforcing legislation,” he tells NPR.

Qureshi feels there could be “potential for a federal intervention in the area of child traffic safety.” He and the other authors of the study predict that just a 10 percent improvement nationally in the use of safe car seats could decrease the rate of kids dying in crashes from 0.94 per 100,000 to 0.56 per 100,000.

Sounds worth considering to us.

The study also found that a factor as seemingly unrelated as red light cameras, which are meant to catch drivers running red lights, have a positive effect on the rate of child deaths from car accidents. Research suggests that could be because the cameras reduce the number of “right angle” car accidents at intersections, but any regulations that help lessen the number of kids dying are worth states examining for potential implementation.

While the federal government collects data about car safety when it comes to kids, the laws are mostly left to the states, but clearly, some aren’t faring as well as others. If it means less kids dying in car accidents, maybe it’s time for the federal government to intervene.

In the meantime, parents and guardians need to do all they can to ensure proper car seat installation, strap placement and seat belt use. Our children’s lives literally depend on it.

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