Children are the most precious cargo any family vehicle could carry. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States. When a child or other family member is injured in a car accident, a car accident lawyer is often needed to help hold liable parties accountable.
Fortunately, parents can do a lot to help protect their children and themselves against injury or death from car accidents. Properly maintaining vehicles, abiding traffic controls, and exercising general common sense while driving go a very long way, but accidents still happen to the best drivers in well-maintained vehicles
The CDC says more than 97,000 children who were age 12 and under suffered personal injury during car accidents in 2018, and 636 of those children died of their injuries. About a third of the children who died were not wearing seat belts, possibly because they were too small in some cases.
Risk Factors Affecting Child Passenger Safety
Most people understand the common sense of wearing seat belts to help survive accidents. Most people also understand the importance of ensuring children are wearing seat belts or placed in child safety seats for additional protection. But many do not recognize hidden dangers that could be especially dangerous for child passengers.
Children face a wide range of potential risks that could injure or kill them, whereas an adult passenger in the same situation would be able to walk away. Among the most dangerous are air bags that are designed to deploy on impact. Those airbags work great with full-sized adults, but they can have an opposite effect on child passengers.
Air bags are potentially deadly to smaller children who do not have the neck strength or body size to withstand a hard blow from one or more air bags deploying during an accident. Automakers recognize the additional dangers air bags create for children and usually make it possible to turn off air bags to protect children.
But the adult drivers need to ensure the air bags are switched off where children are seated. It helps to have small children travel in the rear seat and switch off the side curtain airbags to protect against injuries caused by air bags.
Install and Use Child Safety Seats Correctly
Until they reach an appropriate size, child passengers cannot use seat belts for roadgoing safety. The need dedicated child safety seats or restraints to enjoy the safest possible travels. Sadly, many adult drivers do not properly install child safety seats or other safety restraints designed for children and small passengers.
About 59 percent of car seats and 20 percent of child safety booster seats are used improperly, the CDC says. An improperly used car safety seat or child safety booster seat likely will reduce its effectiveness, possibly to a large extent. Learning to properly install child safety measures and using them correctly is the best way to reduce risks for child passengers.
Parents Need to Set a Good Example
The simplest way in which parents can make travels safer for their children is to set an example and wear seat belts while driving and riding in the family vehicle. About 40 percent of children injured or killed in accidents and who were not using seat belts or child safety seats were passengers in vehicles whose drivers who did not wear seat belts. The CDC says the more likely the driver and especially a parent wears a seat belt, the more likely his or her child will do the same.
Another parental factor that makes a big difference in child passenger safety is drinking and driving. Although banned in every state, adults still drink and drive, and some take their children along for the ride. About 20 percent of deaths among child passengers under age 15 occurred when a drunk driver caused the accident. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths occurred when the driver of the vehicle in which the child was a passenger was the offending drunk driver.
When parents or other adults are willing to drink and drive with their children or the children of others along for the ride, odds are child passengers are not buckled up. About 61 percent of children involved in fatal accidents were not buckled up or secured in a safety seat when riding with adult drivers who were drunk.
Be Wary of Heatstroke
A silent killer is one that claims many children’s lives without a collision occurring. The summertime is a potentially deadly travel season for young children who might be left in the hot sun for too long. A parked car with no air conditioning is especially dangerous with the windows rolled up. The sun’s hot rays can increase the inside temperature to well over 100 degrees and reach potentially lethal levels in a matter of minutes.
A young child in particular is susceptible to heatstroke and possible death because his or her body cannot withstand high heat for long. A small child left in a hot car could reach a core body temperature of 104 degrees in a few minutes. A body temperature of 104 degrees counts as heatstroke. If the child’s body temperature rises to 107 degrees, death becomes a very likely possibility.
Parents never should leave their children in a parked car and especially during summertime. The risks of heatstroke are too great and could cause a child passenger fatality with no actual accident occurring.
Towson Car Accident Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Effectively Defend Victims of Car Accidents
If your child is injured in an accident, the Towson car accident lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help. We will investigate the details of your case and determine who is responsible for causing the accident. Our skilled legal team will protect you and your child’s rights and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.