Despite evolution in child safety seats and other vehicle safety equipment, car accidents remain the nation’s leading cause of death among children. One reason the fatality rate remains so high appears to be that children are frequently transported in vehicles without proper restraint.
A study from The Journal of Pediatrics, covered thoroughly by NPR, showed that 43% of children who died in automobile accidents were not properly restrained or were not restrained at all.
The study, authored by Dr. Faisal Qureshi of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, covered fatal car accidents that occurred between 2010 and 2014. Using data from the National High Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the study identified more than 18,000 children under the age of 15 who were involved in deadly auto wrecks during the five-year period.
Around 15.9% of those children were killed as a result of the accident. The study also showed that child fatalities in crashes varied across different regions of the country. The South proved particularly dangerous, as 52% of the fatalities occurred in that region.
Texas Performs Poorly on Child Car Safety
The latest NHTSA data, from 2017, shows that Texas is unfortunately the deadliest state for children involved in motor vehicle crashes. According to the agency’s 2017 report, 127 children lost their lives in Texas auto accidents that year. That’s 22% higher than the next most dangerous state, California, which had 102 child deaths caused by automobile accidents.
What Are the Texas Laws on Child Restraints in Vehicles?
The Texas Transportation Code is very clear: all children eight years old and younger must be in an appropriate child safety seat, unless the child is more than 57 inches tall. The safety seat must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to follow this law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $250.
Although it’s not the law, Texas recommends that all car seats be rear-facing until the child reaches two years old or weighs more than 35 pounds.
How Can Drivers Keep Children Safe in Cars?
The Texas Department of Safety and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer many suggestions and guidelines that can make your car a safer place for children, including:
- Keeping children in car seats as long as possible, until they reach the maximum height or weight the manufacturer allows
- Using booster seats for children who have outgrown car seats but are still less than 57 inches tall
- Using lap and shoulder belts for all children who are too big for booster seats
- Making sure children under 13 only ride in the rear seat
Legal Help for Families Who Have Lost a Child
Losing a child in a car accident is easily one of the most devastating experiences imaginable. If you find yourself in such a circumstance, talk to the lawyers here at Ted B. Lyon & Associates in Dallas.