Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children after the first few months of life. Of all deaths due to injury, two thirds are related to motor vehicles. In the one- to four-year-old age group, two thirds of the children who are killed in car accidents are occupants of a car, and one third are pedestrians struck by a car. It has been estimated that most of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented by the use of car seats and seat belts.
Children can be injured by cars in two major ways. Children playing on the sidewalk may be hit by a car that jumps the curb, or they may be struck if they venture into the street. But more commonly, a child is hurt when a car in which she is a passenger is involved in a collision.
When a car stops suddenly, the unrestrained passenger continues to move at the original speed until she hits something that stops her. This is usually the interior of the car but may be the ground if the passenger has been ejected.
Children who are at highest risk of injury in an accident are those held in an adult's lap. Not only is the child thrown forward into the dashboard, but she is smashed from behind by the weight of the adult. Even if the passenger is belted in, it is nearly impossible to hold onto a child in a crash. For example, to hold onto a ten-pound infant in a collision at 30 miles per hour requires the same amount of strength as lifting 300 pounds one foot off the ground!
To prevent an auto injury to your child, you must address the issue of safety from the point of view of each of the ways in which injury occurs. You have to consider both pedestrian safety and auto safety.
To make sure your child isn't struck by a car, teach her to respect the road and to walk defensively. Teach her to play in the yard or on the sidewalk and to stay away from the street. And keep an eye on her as she plays. As she gets older, teach her to look both ways before crossing the road. Be sure she knows how to read traffic signals.
To keep your child safe in the car, drive carefully and defensively. Follow the rules of the road. Don't allow your children to distract you -- concentrate on driving. Avoid having any sharp or heavy objects in the car that could become flying missiles in a sudden stop or crash. But the most important precaution doesn't concern your driving skills, but rather one simple plastic and metal device -- a car seat.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require child restraints in automobiles. While states regulate their use, the federal government regulates the construction of car seats. Child seats must meet federal standards for crash protection, standards that are based on dynamic, rather than just static, testing.
The safest place for a child under eight years of age is in the back seat of a car. This reduces the risk of injury from both an accident and any airbags that might be deployed during an accident.
Car accident deaths are much more common than child abductions, though both situations are nightmares for parents. Read how kidnappings can be prevented next by never leaving a child alone in a public place.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.