A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine sheds light on a disturbing trend among parents and caregivers of small children, the study, which included the observation of almost 22,000 children, looked at the use of proper car safety seats. The research found that in the United States only 3 percent of children ages 1 to 3 rode in rear facing car safety seat. Only ten percent of older children from the ages of 8 to 10 years were secured in a booster or other car seat. Some children rode in the front seat.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for American children over the age of 3. More than 100,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year from injuries sustained in car crashes. Car safety seat standards have changed in recent years in an effort to address the high numbers of child injuries.
It seems as if parents have difficulty following the tougher standards according to the study. The latest standards from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that until the age of 2, infants should ride in a rear-facing child safety seat. After the age of two, a child can be moved to a front facing seat ntil he or she exceeds height and weight recommendations on the seat. After that, the AAP recommends that children continue to sit in booster seats until the child reaches 57 inches tall. The AAP also recommends that children ride in the backseat until they reach the age of 13.
Compliance with the safety standards is disturbingly low, according to researchers. Even the looser, older standards had low numbers of compliance among parents. Most children over age 7 were found not riding in booster seats. By the age of 8 most were already riding up front.
Child safety advocates point out that the use of car seats and boosters seats greatly reduce the potential for injuries in a car accident for children. Placing children in the recommended safety seats and ensuring that they ride in the back seat reduces the risk of serious injury or death.
Safety experts point to a lack of awareness as the main reason parents fail to comply with the safety standards. For many parents, the idea that the need for car safety seats correlates with the child’s age leads to a misunderstanding of the need to place children in secure seats. Attempts to educate parents and reach into communities where the awareness was particularly low are ongoing. Safety experts claim that awareness and education are key; standards have changed so much most parents are unaware that adhering to old standards are putting their children at risk.