Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death in children 15 years old and younger in the U.S. Auto accidents cause one in four unintentional injury deaths in children under 13. Improper restraint and lack of child safety seats contribute to these fatalities. Keeping your kids safe in the car takes following all applicable child restraint and safety harness laws, as well as a few best practices for child car safety. Here are some tips from our car accident lawyers for parents in Kansas City:
Always Restrain Your Kids
To keep children safe, it is important to always restrain them when you’re driving, no matter how short the drive or how old the child. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found more than 618,000 children younger than 12 rode unrestrained in vehicles at least some of the time in a single year. Of all children under 12 who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2015, 35% were unrestrained. Not only is it against the law in Kansas City to drive with an unrestrained child passenger – it is a significant risk to the child’s health and safety.
Obey Kansas’s Child Passenger Laws
Kansas seatbelt laws require that children 18 and under use some form of restraint for protection while riding in vehicles. Otherwise, parents could face fines of $60 or more under the Child Passenger Safety Act. Missouri’s laws are similar, but only require restraint systems for child passengers 16 and under. In Missouri, the fine for violating the Child Restraint Law is $50 plus court costs. If you don’t buckle your children up for any other reason, let it be to obey the law and stay out of trouble.
Use the Right Restraint System According to Age, Height, and Weight
Some parents do not realize they are putting their children in danger by using the incorrect type of car seat or booster seat. Each restraint system has a design for maximum safety for passengers of specific ages, weights, and heights. Knowing when to change your car seat as your children grow is instrumental in keeping them as safe as possible while in the car. Standard practices state the following:
Newborn to 2 years old. Rear-facing car seat installed in the back seat. The middle back seat or behind an unoccupied seat is the safest, so your children won’t be in danger in the event of seatback failure.
Ages 2, 3, or 4 years old. Forward-facing car seats. Transition to a forward-facing seat once your children reach the weight limit for the rear-facing car seat.
Ages 4 to 8 years old. Keep your children in car seats as long as possible. Transition to a booster seat once they outgrow the height and weight limits of their car seats.
Age 8 and older. Once children exceed the height and weight limits for the booster seat (generally 80 pounds and/or taller than 4’9”), it’s safe for them to use a regular automobile seatbelt.
Always read the instructions on your car seats and booster seats to make sure your child is within the minimum and maximum guidelines. Remember, height and weight are just as important as age when properly restraining your child. Visit a checkup event or expert to help with proper car seat and booster seat installation.
Don’t Allow Children to Ride in the Front Seat
Children should be seated in the backseat whenever possible. Putting children in the backseat instead of the front passenger seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 75% for children 3 years and under, and almost 50% for children ages 4 to 8 years, according to one study. The main risk of children in the passenger seat comes from the airbag, which deploys in an accident at a velocity that isn’t safe for kids. Disable the airbag if a child must ride in the front seat.