Over several decades of research, car accidents have consistently been rated as one of the leading killers of children aged 1 to 13. Teen drivers, too, face a staggeringly high risk of being killed in auto accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motor vehicle crashes are responsible for one out of every four unintentional injury deaths in children under the age of thirteen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In 2015, a total of 2,333 teens aged sixteen to nineteen were killed in motor vehicle accidents. That means that six teens died every day as a result of motor vehicle injuries. Learn more about how you can protect your children from the risks associated with automobile travel, and how you can protect their legal interests when motor vehicle accident injuries do occur.
Reducing the Risk of Car Accidents for Children and Teens
One of the most important safety measures a parent can take is the use of an appropriate car or booster seat which is properly fit to the child’s size and weight. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, in 2015, 248 children under the age of five were saved by a car seat. It is critical that parents both find the appropriate car seat for their child and ensure that it is properly installed. Follow the NHTSA recommendations for appropriately-sized car and booster seats. Even when a child is old enough and large enough to graduate out of a booster seat, it is important to continue using safety measures within the vehicle. Children under twelve should always ride in the back seat. Seat belts should lie across the upper thighs, and fall snugly across the shoulders and chest. Seat belts which fall on the stomach, neck, or face cannot adequately restrain a child in the event of a collision.
According to the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location. Do not double park or otherwise block visibility in a school zone. In crowded conditions, it is especially important that drivers be able to see around other vehicles. It is also important that children learn not to make impulsive or unexpected movements. In a crowded parking lot, other drivers will often have no space or time to react to your movements. Drivers should signal movements well in advance, and execute movements slowly to ensure that the path is, indeed, clear.
For teen drivers, passengers are a critical problem. The New York Times reports that adding one non-family passenger to a teen’s vehicle increased the odds of having an accident by forty-four percent. Distracted driving is another common cause of accidents - one to which teens are particularly susceptible. Forbes reports on a Governors Highway Safety Association study which found teens to be the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of an accident. While distraction is dangerous for any driver, it is particularly problematic for young, inexperienced drivers who are not always prepared to deal with obstacles in the road.
Consult with an experienced West Palm Beach auto accident attorney as soon as possible after any motor vehicle accident. Your child has legal rights which must be vigorously defended.