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Brooks Schuelke
Brooks Schuelke
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For The Love Of Your Child, Please Use A Car Or Booster Seat

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I received a twitter note (you can follow me @bschuelke) this morning from a local news station (@KXAN for you twitterers) saying that an unrestrained child was ejected and killed in a car wreck this morning. As a parent, there isn’t anything you can do that is more important than protecting your child, and properly using a car or booster seat is one of the most important things you can do to protect your child.

The National Center for Health Statistics says that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for the 2-14 year old age group. And a lot of the problem is in Texas. Texas and California are neck and neck for the 1 and 2 rankings of the number of child deaths from car wrecks, and both states almost double the number 3 ranked state for number of deaths.

Many of these deaths can be prevented by the proper use of car seats and booster seats. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration studies show that child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. And Center for Disease Control studies show that proper use of booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with their 2009 car seat guide, which summarizes as follows:

Infants: Infact seats and rear facing convertible seats. All infants younger than 1 year and who weigh less than 20 pounds should always ride rear-facing.

Toddlers/Preschoolers: Convertible seats. Children 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds can ride forward-facing. It is best to ride rear-facing as long as possible.

School-aged children: Booster seats. Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4’9" in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age)

Older children: Seat belts. Children who have outgrown their booster seats should ride in a lap and shoulder belt in the back seat until 13 years of age.

While all seats are important, I want to emphasize the booster seat requirement. Most parents are good about keeping their kids in car seats, but I see a LOT of kids that aren’t 4’9" and don’t use booster seats. This is just dangerous.

Seat belts are designed for adults. If your child doesn’t meet the 4’9" requirement, then the seat belts will not keep the child in position in a serious wreck. The child will flail around and potentially be ejected or partially ejected from the vehicle, almost certainly killing the child.

I know there’s a lot of pressure from kids and even potentially other parents to not use the booster seats, but as an attorney, who only handles auto porduct liability cases told me was his response to parents that don’t use booster seats, "I just tell other parents that I’m glad to know I love my kids more than they love theirs."