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20 Percent of Children Who Die in Car Wrecks Aren’t Restrained Correctly

Jennifer Mattern

We know you won’t move your car an inch if your children aren’t buckled in — but are they buckled in properly?

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A sobering new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics claims that a devastating 20 percent of kids who died in car crashes between the years 2010 and 2014 weren’t restrained properly. The study suggests that making sure children under 15 are wearing seat belts or are restrained correctly in an age-appropriate car seat or booster could save 232 lives a year. That’s a lot of children.

Those are some powerful statistics. Additional numbers paint an even more harrowing picture: Of the more than 18,000 children involved in the car crashes studied in those years, 15.9 percent died, and the main reason was whether or not the child in question was restrained correctly.

One surprising factor that increases a child’s risk of death in a car accident is driving on rural roads. Red light cameras, however, decreased the chance of a child dying in a car accident.

Interestingly, the study found that child fatality rates varied quite a bit from state to state. This is perhaps understandable, considering public info on car seats, seat belt laws, the frequency of rural roads and usage of red light cameras also vary greatly depending on which state one’s driving in.

The South (along with Montana and Wyoming) is currently the most statistically dangerous place for a child in a car. More than half of the children who died in a car accident lived in Southern states, with the highest death rates in Mississippi, Wyoming, Alabama, Montana and Virginia according to CBS News. The numbers from Mississippi are heartbreaking: a massive 38 percent of children who died in car crashes weren’t restrained properly — or even at all.

The lowest fatality rates in case you were wondering were in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Washington and Rhode Island.

The takeaway from this study? It’s definitely time for stronger seat belt laws for kids and far better car-safety education for parents (or anyone driving with kids in the back.) 

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