Despite the implementation of car seat laws in all 50 states and Washington DC, as well as improvements in overall vehicle safety, the leading cause of death for children ages one to 12 in the United States continues to be motor vehicle accidents. In 2010 alone, auto accidents claimed the lives of 1,428 children ages 15 and under, including 91 children in Florida. Securing children in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats proves to be one of the best ways to minimize their risk of injury or death in the event of a crash. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when used properly, child safety seats help to reduce fatal and serious injuries among children by more than 50 percent.
Research shows that child safety seats reduce infants’ risk of death in passenger cars by 71 percent. For children ages one to four, child safety seats correlate to a 54 percent risk reduction. Even though numerous studies support the effectiveness of child safety seats at preventing injuries among children, the CDC recently discovered that, over a one-year period, more than 618,000 children ages 12 and under rode in vehicles unrestrained at least some of the time. This finding proves quite concerning when one considers that, according to Safe Kids USA, nearly half of all children ages 14 and under who die in car accidents are completely unrestrained at the time of the crash.
Nationwide in 2009, approximately 179,000 children ages 14 and under were injured in car accidents. To help keep child passengers safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends:
- Securing children under age one in a rear-facing car seat
- Securing children ages one to three in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the manufacturer’s height or weight limit, and then transitioning them to a front-facing car seat with a harness
- Securing children ages four to seven in a front-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the manufacturer’s height or weight limit, and then transitioning them to a booster seat
- Securing children ages eight to 12 in a booster seat until a seatbelt fits them properly
In addition to following manufacturer guidelines when using a child safety seat, parents should also pay attention to car seat recalls. Car seat defects, such as the following, can result in serious injuries or death:
- Inferior materials
- Weak construction
- Faulty design
- Sudden release
- Latch, handle, harness or tether strap failure
- Base/shell separation
If a defective car seat or reckless driver injured or killed your child, contact an experienced Orlando injury attorney today to learn about your legal rights. Your family may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, funeral costs, and pain and suffering, and a qualified Orlando injury lawyer can help you fight to get it.