Preventing Injuries to Children in Connecticut Car Accidents

Protecting your children from harm is a natural instinct for parents. Keeping a watchful eye on young children as they play, stopping them from running in a pool area, teaching them to hold an adult's hand and look both ways before crossing the street are all common methods of protecting children from known harms.

Another way to protect young children is a child safety seat. Car seats are the best way to protect infants and toddlers from injury resulting from a car accident. Each year, approximately 250,000 children are hurt in car accidents; auto accidents are the leading cause of death among children in the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported head injuries were the most common injuries suffered by small children in car crashes. Newborns and infants under one year old were more susceptible to skull fractures and concussions compared to children age three and older. Connecticut traumatic brain injury lawyers have seen the devastation these types of accidents and injuries can have on families.

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, proper use of a child safety seat can reduce the risk of injury to children in motor vehicle accidents by up to 70 percent. 

NHTSA Releases New Safety Recommendations To Enhance Child Safety

In February 2011, the NHTSA released new recommendations for child safety seats. The new guidelines are based upon years of research on the effects car accidents had on young children, particularly toddlers. Research indicated that children younger than age two are far less likely to die or suffer severe injuries in a car crash if they are facing the rear of the vehicle. It is now recommended that children should ride in rear facing car seats for as long as possible.

Rear-facing seats helped to distribute the force of a crash over the child's entire body instead of centralizing it in the head and neck region. A young child's head is considerably heavier than the rest of his or her body; any sudden change of direction in an accident is much more likely to violently shake the child's head and neck, thus increasing the likelihood of head, neck or spinal cord injuries resulting from a Connecticut car accident.

A variety of rear-facing safety seats are available for parents to choose from. A car seat for a newborn should exclusively face the rear. Convertible and 3-in-1 seats offer more versatility because they have higher height and weight limits. These seats allow infants and toddlers to stay in safer positions until they are big enough to sit in child booster seats.

Graduating Connecticut Children to Booster Seats for Cars

Just like car seats, seatbelts work by keeping the passenger in place and distributing the force of an impact across the strongest parts of the body (essentially the pelvis and shoulders). But, as children grow, there is commonly a point at which traditional seatbelts don't quite fit, yet traditional car seats are too small.

Booster seats bridge this gap, raising a child so that a seatbelt hits the body properly, limiting the occurrence of catastrophic injuries, including damage to the neck, head or back. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, booster seats reduce the risk of injuries by 59 percent compared to seatbelts alone. Further, the NHTSA recommends that booster seats be used for all children under age eight.

Parents' Safe Driving Habits Contribute to Safer Car Rides for Kids

Aside from using proper size-appropriate car seats and booster seats, parents can reduce the risk of injury to their children by adopting safe driving habits. While it is impossible to control how others are driving on the road - whether they are paying attention, distracted by texting or drank behind getting the wheel - parents can reduce risks to children by driving defensively.

Consistent seatbelt use by parents is critical. The Center for Disease Control reports that a number of unrestrained children rode in cars where parents themselves were not using seatbelts. Children will naturally follow the example parents set for them. A good rule to follow is that the car shouldn't start unless everyone has a seatbelt on.

With crashworthiness and occupant safety as continual safety themes, the new information on car seats should be welcome advice to new parents. While you can't do anything about other dangerous drivers, you can take steps to protect children when they are with you.