As parents, one of our top priorities is keeping our children safe. Most of us take every precaution to protect our children from harm. Despite all of our time and attention to safety, many do not realize that one of the leading causes of death for children under the age of 13 is something that we do every day: driving.
Motor vehicle accidents cause 1 of every 4 injury deaths in children younger than 13.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most of these crash deaths occur when a child is riding as a passenger in a vehicle. The proper use of restraints in a car, such as a car seat, can significantly reduce motor vehicle fatalities.
All 50 states, including Pennsylvania, have child restraint laws. Knowing these laws, and complying with them every single time that you drive with your kids in the car, can help to reduce the likelihood that your child may be injured or even killed in an accident. This is true whether you are just riding around the neighborhood or on a busy Philadelphia highway.
Pennsylvania’s Child Restraint Laws
In Pennsylvania, state law requires that all children younger than age four are restrained in an approved child safety seat if they ride anywhere in a vehicle. Children under the age of two must be buckled into a rear-facing car seat, where they must remain until they grow beyond the maximum weight and height specified by the manufacturer of the car seat. As a Philadelphia car accident attorney can explain, this requirement — that children remain in rear-facing car seats until they’re over two years old or have outgrown the car seat — was implemented in 2016, in accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For older children, Pennsylvania law requires that children between the ages of four and eight be restrained in booster seats appropriate for their height and weight. Children between the ages of eight and eighteen must wear seatbelts. Pennsylvania also recommends that children remain in the back seat until age 13. Anyone who violates Pennsylvania’s child restraint laws will be subject to a fine of $125
Further information on these laws can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)’s website, where you can also locate Philadelphia-area child safety seat fitting stations. There are also a number of car seat loan programs that are available throughout the Philadelphia area; a directory can be found here.
How Car Seats Protect Your Child in a Philadelphia Car Accident
Car safety features were generally not designed with children in mind. Seat belts, air bags, and other restraints are meant to protect adults from the impact of crashes — not children. That is why it is so important to put your child in an age and size appropriate safety seat each and every time that you drive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that car seat use reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 71 to 82%, as compared to seat belt use alone. Booster seat use reduces the risk of serious injury by 45%. For older children, the use of a seat belt cuts the chances of death and serious injury by approximately 50%.
According to PennDOT, the use of appropriate restraints can significantly reduce the risk of a child being injured in a car accident. From 2013 to 2017, 82% of children under the age of 4 who were involved in a car accident sustained no injury when they were restrained in a car seat. According to PennDOT data, in 2017, of 25,891 children involved in accidents who were restrained in a car seat, 82.4% sustained no injury. In that same year, 1,598 children were involved in an accident without any restraint. Just 56.5% did not suffer an injury.
These numbers demonstrate that a proper restraint — car seat, booster seat, or seat belt — is vital to keeping your child safe in the event of a collision. While you may not be able to prevent every accident, you can take steps to protect your child should the worst case scenario occur.
Work with a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney
Solnick & Associates believes strongly in working with the greater Philadelphia community to help reduce the number of children hurt in car accidents. We know that kids are a precious gift, and we want to help you protect them by explaining Pennsylvania’s car seat laws.
At Solnick & Associates, we understand how devastating a car crash can be, particularly if children are involved. We are dedicated to helping victims of accidents get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations, where we explain your rights and your options for moving forward. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Philadelphia car accident attorney, contact our office today at 877-415-6495 or via our online portal.