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U.S. parents need to up their game in safely securing kids in cars

The leading cause of death for children over the age of three in the United States is a car crash, and a recent safety study indicates that American parents and other motorists who exercise supervisory roles over children aren’t doing nearly enough to combat that sad statistic.

The problem is this: Despite the great strides made in recent years to improve car seats, booster seats and child restraints for kids, too few children are using them properly. Some kids don’t even use them at all.

According to researchers, who looked at three years worth of data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and then conducted inspections and interviews with the parents of more than 21,000 kids, that is truly something to lament.

Here’s why, states the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 180,000 children are injured in car accidents across the country, including in Ohio, each year. Where children between the ages of one and four are properly secured in safety seats appropriate for their age, height and weight, their risk of dying in a collision is reduced by nearly 55 percent. For infants, that number jumps to 71 percent.

And yet relatively few parents buckle up their kids properly.

Why is that?

A number of factors seem in play when answering that question. Many parents simply have a false sense of security. Others think they are doing things properly when, in fact, they aren’t following guidelines on where a child should be sitting and in what type of restraint.

The antidote to that, say the study researchers, is to improve community-based public education and constantly serve up reminders of the need to safety secure kids in cars.

And parents, too, need to take a hard look at their own driving behavior. The study revealed that an adult not wearing a seat belt was far more likely to forgo buckling his or her child.

Source: CBS News, “U.S. children at risk from poor adherence to car seat guidelines, study warns,” Ryan Jaslow, Aug. 8, 2012