According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under 14 years old. In 2007, there were a total of 41,059 traffic fatalities in the United States, and of those deaths, 1,670 were children under 14. It is a somber fact that motor vehicle crashes kill five children and injure 548 every single day.
But there is something we can do. Research has shown that, when used, lad/shoulder seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat occupants over age 5 by 45 percent in passenger cars, and lessen the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants the use of seat belts lowers the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants, the use of seat belts lowers the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent in the same age group.
Child safety seats further reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants under one year old and by 54 percent in toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars. In light trucks the risk for infants and toddlers is reduced by 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively. There is really no excuse to fail to use child safety seats or shoulder/seat belts to help protect our most precious cargo.
White they are vitally important, child safety seats must also be used correctly. Failure to read the child safety set instructions, or properly install the safety seat, undermines the protection that they can provide. Putting children in rear facing safety seats in the front seat of vehicles with passenger air bags may injure the child if the air bags deploy.
Many local police departments and other safety organizations routinely offer to check the installation of child safety seats. I encourage parents and grandparents to have their safety seats checked by these experts wherever such services are offered. These safety professional would much rather see you for a safety seat check than to see your injured child at the scene of an accident.