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Seat belts were not used and did not save this 10 year old!

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James E. Ballidis
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One California family suffered tragically over the holiday weekend due to not restraining their three children properly. All three children were ejected from the vehicle during the accident; the eldest daughter, who was only 10 years old, died at the scene and the 4 and 1 year olds were critically injured during the crash. Even though car restraints were found in the car, investigators said they were not installed properly.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. Furthermore, the one major contributing factor to these deaths is unrestrained or improperly restrained children. Even if you’re travelling at around 35mph, if left unrestrained, it would be like the equivalent force of throwing your child off a three story building.

The California Highway Patrol has recently received a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety to fund their “California Occupant Restraint Campaign”. The program is aimed at community outreach and enforcement issues to increase seat belt awareness. In addition, many parents think their kids are safely restrained when they really aren’t. Many car seats are not properly installed and are not the right size for your child’s age, weight and height.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, has updated its car safety seats family guidelines for 2009. Parents are frequently overwhelmed by different types of seats, vehicle type and many other factors. Here is a brief overview of safety guidelines.

Infants to one year of age and up to 20 pounds should always ride in rear-facing infant seat. Currently there are two types; infant only and convertible seats. The infant only is primarily used for infants up to 20 pounds and the convertible seats are used if your infant reaches 20lbs before their first birthday. The convertible seats can then move to be a forward facing seat.

Toddlers and preschoolers should always be in forward facing seats. Always check the models’ specifications, but generally they are used for children between one to four years of age. Additionally, since many toddlers’ have various weight ranges, the weight requirements are generally up to 65 pounds. The AAP guidelines also review all five forward facing types as well as installation tips and common installation problems.

School-aged children that have outgrown their car seats should be in a booster seat. They must stay in a booster seat, generally between the ages of 8-12 years old or until they reach the key height requirement of 4’9”. Booster seats should never be used with a lap belt, only a three point seat belt.

When your child outgrows the booster seat, they are now safe to use a regular seat belt. However, only when your child is 15 years old can they safely sit in the front seat.

For a copy of this guideline, visit www.aap.org.

The CHP is enforcing the seat belt laws this holiday season. Be a good example for your children by always buckling up yourself and save your family from unnecessary distress.

James Ballidis is a personal injury attorney practicing in Southern California.  For information on any possible claims you may have please call 1 888 752-7474 or contact us through our web site.

Category: Car Accidents

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