Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children 15 and under in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accidents (unintentional injuries) are the greatest child killer – and the number one source of unintentional injury in the U.S. is motor vehicle accidents. Keeping your child safe while in the car is possible with the right knowledge and safety devices. The first step toward preventing your child’s risk of auto accident death is to learn as much as you can about this tragedy.

What Do the Statistics Show?

Facts on child auto accidents deaths are enough to make parents dread putting their kids in the car ever again. The most recent year data is available (2015) from the CDC, car accidents killed 5,411 children ages five to 14 and 3,965 children one to four years old – a total of 9,376 victims under the age of 15. Car accident injuries are the top cause of injury-related death in children ages five to 19, based on pediatric injury facts from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Every hour, nearly 150 children around the country end up in emergency rooms with serious car-accident related injuries. Many of these children will sadly never walk out again. Injuries to the head, brain, spinal cord, and internal organs can prove fatal for child auto accident victims. For every child that dies from unintentional injuries, another 925 receive treatment in an ER and 25 require hospitalization, according to the CDC.

Montana is one of the most dangerous states in the country in terms of child injury death rates, with 18-25.1 per 100,000 population (the national average is 11). If every state could achieve the lowest state’s child injury death rate, more than 5,700 children would not die each year, the CDC reports. Keeping children safer in cars is a proactive step that could save thousands of lives in itself. As a parent or guardian in charge of child car safety, find out how you can decrease the risk of fatal unintentional injuries.

How Parents Can Keep Their Children Safe in the Car

Most child auto accident deaths are preventable. It is up to drivers to purchase the correct safety devices, properly strap children in before each ride, and drive as safely as possible to their destinations. Follow these safety tips:

  1. Pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, safety seats can’t prevent all child injuries or deaths. The best way to protect your child is to avoid an accident to begin with. Driver error causes a large percentage of fatal car crashes. Avoid distractions such as cell phones while driving and dedicate 100% of your attention to the road. Obey all Montana traffic laws to reduce your risk of a collision.
  2. Don’t remove the booster seat too early. A common mistake parents make is graduating young children to forward-facing car seats, booster seats, or seat belts too early. Read up on car seat safety tips to find out which type of seat is right for your child. Height and weight are more important than age in deciding when to upgrade.
  3. Always buckle children up. It doesn’t matter how short the drive – child passengers must always use safety restraint devices. Keep children buckled in the back seat if possible. Letting children sit freely in the vehicle is illegal and could result in a ticket, but it can also risk your child’s life.

Safety equipment and devices exist to minimize a child’s risk of fatal injury in the event of a vehicle collision. Despite this, 35% of children 12 and under who died in car accidents in 2016 weren’t buckled up. One CDC study discovered that more than 618,000 children didn’t use child safety seats or belts at least part of the time in one year. Don’t put your child in danger; practice proper child vehicle safety.

If you’ve recently been involved in an accident in which your, your child or a passenger was injured by another motor vehicle, contact our office today to discuss you case with one of our experienced Billings car accident attorneys today. Our personal injury lawyers can evaluate the circumstances on your case and provide you with your best legal options.