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mother strapping in her baby in a car seat safely

Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 19-25, is being observed nationally to educate the public about the importance of securing children in the correct car seat for their age, height, and weight.

Despite the stringent laws requiring children to be secured in the appropriate car seats when on the road, car accidents are still the leading cause of death for children aged one to thirteen. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges parents and caregivers to ensure kids buckled up correctly in their car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip.

Know - Is your child in the right car seat?

Car seats significantly reduce the risk of injury in motor vehicle crashes, when compared with seat belt use alone. Whether you’re a first-time parent or want to refresh on the Virginia car seat rules & regulations, here’s how to determine which car seat fits best for your child as per his age and size:

  • Rear-Facing Car Seats: Rear-facing car seats are often used for children until the age of two, with their weight ranging from 5-40 LBS or as stated by the car seat manufacturer. A rear-facing seat should never be used in the vehicle's front seat with an active passenger airbag.
  • Forward-Facing Car Seats: Forward-facing car seats with a 5-point harness should be used for children who have outgrown the height or weight limits on the rear-facing car seats.
  • Booster Seat: When children outgrow forward-facing car seats, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat. According to Virginia law, all children under the age of seven must be securely buckled up in a child safety seat irrespective of their height or weight.
  • Seat Belts: Use seat belts if the child is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. (Usually when 4’9″ tall)

Children and teenagers between the ages of 8 and 18 must use seat belts. Failure to comply with Virginia seatbelt rules carries a maximum penalty of $500. Also, parents are advised to replace the car seat after an accident that renders a vehicle undrivable.

Key Child passenger Safety Statistics

  • In 2019, two children under the age of 13 were killed, and an estimated 374 were injured while riding in motor vehicles.
  • 608 child passenger vehicle occupants lost their lives in traffic crashes in 2019, which is a 4% decrease compared to 2018.
  • Unrestrained children accounted for 38 percent of child passenger vehicle fatalities in 2019, compared to 33 percent in 2018.
  • Between 2015 and 2019, 3,321 children under 13 and 1,709 “tweens” (8 to 14 years old) were killed while traveling in passenger cars.
  • A total of 137,000 kids traveling in passenger cars suffered injuries in traffic accidents in 2019. And 13 % were under 13.
  • Minority children are more likely to be unrestrained and are at greater risk of being killed in traffic crashes. According to NHTSA 2018 report, unrestrained children who lost their lives in car crashes were:
  • 62% of American Indian
  • 49% of Black children
  • 40% of Hispanic children
  • 20% of White children
  • In 2019, vans accounted for 47% of unrestrained children killed in motor vehicle accidents, followed by SUVs and light trucks (42% each).
  • Car seats in passenger cars lower the risk of fatal injury for infants by 71% and for toddlers by 54%.
  • Car seats in light trucks reduce the risk of fatal injury for infants by 58% and for toddlers by 59%.
  • Car seats saved an estimated 312 deaths among children under 5 in 2017 (the most recent statistics available). Another 371 children would have survived had they been buckled up.
  • 46% of parents fail to install car seats correctly.

Apart from proper usage, the correct installation of child safety car seats is too essential for complete protection in the event of an auto accident. Always make sure these car seats are the right size for your children and are properly installed in your vehicle before each ride.

To assure that your child receives the best possible safety, you can also have a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician check your car seat. To find a CPS near you, visit NHTSA or Safe Kids Virginia website, or you can also call the state highway department.

Using Car Seat After a Crash

According to NHTSA, car seats may not necessarily need replacement following a minor collision. However, they should be immediately replaced after a moderate or severe accident to ensure continued child passengers' safety.

To ensure a high level of child passenger safety in the car, avoid buying restored or second-hand car seats, as they may have been involved in a crash earlier.

Finally, keep a check on the NHTSA's list of recalled car seats. Millions of safety seats keep getting recalled for various reasons or defects. Ensure yours is not on that list.

Contact Virginia Top-Rated Auto Accident Attorney

If you were traveling with your child as a passenger and got involved in an accident because of someone else's negligence in Virginia, Kalfus & Nachman's experienced car accident lawyers will fight hard to protect your and your child's legal rights.

Our experts will thoroughly investigate your case, identify the potentially liable party or parties, and timely file your claim to help you get the financial recovery you deserve for your damages. Call us for a free consultation today: 855-880-8163


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