Children face many dangers daily. While parents cannot protect them from all hazards, risks can be mitigated with appropriate safety measures. Car accidents are a leading cause of death for both young children and teen drivers. 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. Learn more about the steps parents can take to protect their children from the risks of the road.
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 your 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 car seats. It is critical that parents both find the appropriate car seat for their children and ensure that it is properly installed. Follow the NHTSA recommendations for appropriately-sized car and booster seats.
Even when a child is old and large enough to graduate from 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.
It should be noted that Va. Code § 46.2-1094 requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear a seat belt, or else pay a civil fine of $25. However, the statute expressly states failure to do so is not to be construed as a form of negligence in a car accident lawsuit.
Why Teen Drivers Are Especially Prone to Car Accidents
AAA reports that new teen drivers aged sixteen to seventeen are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than adults. 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. These studies corroborate decades of previous data which has established just how dangerous teen drivers can be. But what specifically are the factors that cause this danger? And how can parents address these factors in order to reduce their teen driver’s risk of having a car accident?
Passengers are a critical problem for teen drivers. The New York Times reports that adding one non-family passenger to a teen’s vehicle increases the odds of having an accident by forty-four percent. Interestingly, distraction was found to be highest when male teen drivers had male teen passengers in the car. Male drivers with female teen passengers drove more safely.
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 and inexperienced drivers who are not always prepared to deal with obstacles of the road.
If your child has been injured in a car accident, you must protect both their health and legal interests. Consult with an experienced Roanoke auto accident attorney as soon as possible after any motor vehicle accident.