Child Car Seat Safety Guidelines Not Being Followed
August 8, 2012

Not Many Follow Child Car Seat Safety Guidelines

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Buckle your seatbelt! This has been the advice touted most often by safety experts, as over 140,000 children are rushed to the emergency room each year due to car accidents. Researchers from the University of Michigan report they have found that few parents and kids follow the safety recommendations for using restraints in car; there are also differences on seatbelt use depending on racial and ethnic background.

The findings, featured in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, highlighted how many U.S. children are not using the age-appropriate safety restraints and have increased bodily harm when placed in the front street. According to the publication, car crashes are the leading cause of deaths of children who are older than three years of age in the U.S. The organization listed new Guidelines for Child Passenger Safety in 2011, which included rules for rear-facing and forward-facing seats.

“We found that few children remain rear-facing after age 1, fewer than 2% use a booster seat after age 7, many over age six sit in the front seat,” explained Dr. Michelle L. Macy, a co-author of the study and member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics at C.S. Mott Children´s Hospital at the University of Michigan, in a prepared statement.

In the project, Macy and Dr. Gary L. Freed looked at three years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National Survey on the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS). This data was compiled before the new guidelines in 2011. The data described the actions of drivers with child passengers who passed through childcare centers, fast food restaurants, gas stations, and recreation centers. They tracked child restraint type and seat row, driver restraint use, and type of car. The researchers also interviewed drivers and collected data from 21,476 children.

According to WebMD, the findings showed that, as children became older, there was a decrease in child safety seat use. For particular age groups, minority children showed to be using the age-appropriate restraint less than white children. As well, there were a higher proportion of minority children who were transitioned to seat belts prematurely. In cars where the driver wasn´t wearing a seat belt, there was a 23 times higher chance that the child in the car wasn´t wearing a seat restraint either.

“The most important finding from this study is that, while age and racial disparities exist, overall few children are using the restraints recommended for their age group, and many children over five are sitting in the front seat,” noted Macy in the statement.

The authors concluded in their report that more public education programs need to be developed to better educate parents, especially those of a minority background.

“Our findings demonstrate that not all children have been reached equally by community-based public education campaigns and the passage of child safety seat laws in 48 states. Further development and dissemination of culturally specific programs that have demonstrated success in promoting restraint use among minority children are necessary. Further, the findings may also help in developing strategies to lower the racial and ethnic disparities seen in children experiencing crash-related injuries,” suggested Macy in an article by ABC News.