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Car accidents: protecting children from fatal injuries

More and more often, media attention focuses on the causes of accidents, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving and drowsy driving. This is a good thing, and it is important to also emphasize the outcomes.

One of these that happens far too often is the serious or fatal injuries children suffer in motor vehicle crashes.

Children are more vulnerable in a crash

Numerous studies show that children, especially those under the age of 16, are more likely to sustain serious injuries in a crash than an adult in the same collision. Properly used restraints can lessen the danger significantly. However, engineers design seat belts and airbags to protect adults. Although these safety features may keep a child from flying through the windshield, they may also break bones or damage internal organs because of the improper position.

Car seats are not a guarantee of safety

Car seats and booster seats are the best way to protect children in a crash, but they do have weaknesses. For example, if the child is not within the correct weight and height range for the seat, it could be just as dangerous as the adult restraints. Children under the age of two are safest in rear-facing car seats. Once they reach 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height, they can switch over to front-facing seats. Children 8 years old and older should sit in the back seat with their seat belts adequately secured. 

Parents should also be on the lookout for car seat recalls. Design or manufacturing defects are disturbingly common, and these can lead to fatal injuries. Car accidents are dangerous enough without adding the threat of a faulty car seat. Parents whose children suffer injuries due to a negligent driver or a faulty product may be able to receive compensation to cover medical costs, pain and suffering and other damages.

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