Thursday, March 8, 2007

Staff Writer

An traffic accident like the one that took place Monday morning at the intersection of U.S. 231 North and County Road 500 North is a prime example of correct use of child car safety seats can save lives.

In Monday morning's accident, Marie Hellman, 21, Bainbridge, had properly restrained her one-month infant in the back of her vehicle.

Indiana State Trooper Chris Harcourt told the BannerGraphic that there were no reported injuries to the child following the accident. However, Hellman and her mother, a passenger in the car, both sustained leg injuries in the collision with a pickup truck. They were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Harcourt said the accident was a prime example of how use of an infant car safety seat can save a child's life.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of four children, ages 14 years and younger, died and 556 were injured in vehicle accidents each day in 2005. Nearly half of the children that died in these accidents were not properly restrained.

So how can parents prevent their child from being injured or killed if they are involved in an accident?

The first thing is knowing how to properly use and install a child safety seat. Parents should read both their vehicle owner's manual, along with the car seat's instruction manual. This will allow the parents to know if they are misusing the seat in any way. According to the Centers of Disease Control's website, "One study found that 72 percent of nearly 3,500 observed child restraint systems were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child's risk of injury during a crash."

Parents should also make sure their child is properly restrained in a restraint system and is both age- and size-appropriate for that child every time they ride in a vehicle, including those quick trips to the store or the gas station.

The second thing parents should know is the appropriate location to place a car safety seat. All children younger than 12 or 13 should be seated in the back seat, and a child should never be placed in a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of the vehicle especially if that vehicle has an active passenger air bag.

Raenetta Scobee, an employee with the Greencastle Police Department, told the BannerGraphic parents can stop by the police station anytime and have one of five certified employees check their child's car safety seat. The check includes seeing if the car safety seat is properly installed and if it is a proper fit for the child.

Scobee said that she has never seen a properly installed car seat, so she has to show the parents the correct way to install it.

The police department either provides the parents with a new car seat or fixes the old one so that the child is properly protected at all times while inside a vehicle. Scobee also said there are certain age and weight requirements for car seats. These requirements include all infants should be in rear-facing safety seats until they reach one year of age or weigh 20 pounds; children ages 1-4 can be in either a rear- or front-facing car seat; children ages 4-8 should be in a belt position booster seat; and children ages 8-16 should be restrained by a seatbelt.

If these child safety restraint systems are used properly, the risk of death for infants should be decreased by 71 percent and for toddlers by 54 percent., according to the Safe Kids USA website.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, all 50 states have child restraint laws, while only 39 states have children either covered by safety belt laws, children restraint laws or both, including Indiana.

Indiana House Bill 1098, which became effective in 2005, states that a person who operates a motor vehicle should restrain a child less than 12 years old by using a child restraint system or a safety belt.

There are several websites on the Internet, like CDC and Safe Kids USA, that provide parents with information and tips on child car safety seats.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: