CDC Reports Fewer Children Dying in Car Crashes

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new study showing death rates of children in car crashes fell by 43 percent from 2002 to 2011.  Even more death could be prevented with use of adequate safety measures.  The study showed that one of three children who died in a car crash in 2011 was not using a seat belt or child safety seat.  More than 9,000 children age 12 and younger died in a car crash from 2002 to 2011.  A much higher proportion of black and Hispanic children were not buckled, compared with white kids, 45 percent for blacks, 46 percent for Hispanics and 26 percent for white kids.

The study reports that seat belt use increased from 88 percent in 2002 to 91 percent in 2011 with children age 7 and under.  Children age birth to 2 should be in a rear-facing car seat.  Children age 2 to 5 should be in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the seat.  Children age 5 and older should use a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them properly, generally when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lays across the chest, but not the neck.

Data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. offers 5 tips for making sure that your child is safe in their car seat.

  1. Make sure your child is in the appropriate seat. Check the label on your car seat for the manufacturer’s recommendations on age, height and weight.
  2. Make sure your child is sitting in the back seat until age at least 13.
  3. Make sure your child is facing the right direction. Infants and toddlers should be in a rear-facing car seat until age 2. Once he or she outgrows the rear-facing seat, move your child into a forward-facing booster seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.
  4. Perform the inch test. Once the car seat is installed and the harness is tightly buckled give it a good shake. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
  5. Perform the pinch test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

Correct use of safety seats can reduce the risk of death as much as 71 percent.