Category: Child Passenger Safety

Child Safety Month

November is Child Safety & Protection Month

November is Child Safety & Protection Month, a time to look at various ways to keep your children safe. While you take the time to look over the numerous items related to the safety of your children, don’t neglect to take some time to make sure they are traveling safely. Every year, motor vehicle crashes rank high on the list of leading the causes of injury and fatality for children in most age groups.

Here are some general points to consider:

  1. Children over 4’9” are likely riding in a seatbelt. It is important to make sure the seatbelt fits them properly, as they are generally designed for adults. While there is no single criteria indicating when a child is large enough for a seatbelt without a booster or child’s car seat, there are steps you can take to determine when your child can rely solely on the seatbelt.
  2. If your child is smaller than 4’9”, they should be riding in a car seat. There are two important checks that should be made for safety. First, check the expiration date to confirm the child car seat is not past its allowed lifetime, which is typically 6 years. Second, verify the car seat has no open recalls. To do this you will need the car seat manufacturer, model number and date of manufacture. Checking for recalls can be done on either the manufacturer’s website or on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website. (https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm)
  3. Continue reading “November is Child Safety & Protection Month”

car-seat-on-airplane-expert-witness

Car Seats on Airplanes

As someone who both investigates crashes and teaches child passenger safety, I am frequently asked questions about traveling with children on airplanes. For many families, the infrequency of air travel with a child translates to little knowledge of both the regulations and the best practices.

Most airlines do not require a child under 2 years old to have a ticket. This means the child does not have a seat and will have to sit on someone’s lap for the flight. While this is permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), they recommend all children be secured in a child seat or approved harness on all flights. This is largely due to the difficulty of holding a child should the flight encounter turbulence or make a rough landing. Some airlines offer reduced or specially priced fares for young children.

Once you have a ticketed seat for your child, the recommendation is to use a Child Restraint System (CRS) or a FAA approved child harness device to restrain the child to the aircraft seat. Not every CRS can be used on an aircraft. Only those that have passed the inversion test specified in FMVSS 213 and are labeled with the phrase, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”, are acceptable. While this does include most rear-facing and forward-facing child seats with harnesses, regulations do not permit the use of booster seats on aircraft. You should also check the width of your CRS to be sure it is less than 16 inches wide or you could find it is to large to fit in the aircraft seat. In addition to CRS, the FAA has approved one harness device, the CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System), for use on aircraft. Continue reading “Car Seats on Airplanes”

Child Passenger Safety

A Potential Client Calls About A Child Injured in A Crash – What Should You Do?

You just got a call from a parent that they were involved in a collision and, as a result, their young child was injured. What important steps should you take?

  1. Secure the evidence – both the vehicle and the child seat
  2. Get the make, model and date of manufacture of the child seat
  3. Photograph any marks on the child’s body
  4. Get accurate height and weight for the child

One of the most important steps to take is to immediately secure the evidence. In a case involving a child who was riding in a child seat, in addition to the vehicle, it is also very important to secure the child seat. If the child seat is still installed in the vehicle, take photographs to document how it is installed and how the harness is adjusted. If the child seat is no longer installed in the vehicle, it is best to secure the car seat by taking custody of it to prevent it from becoming separated from a vehicle you do not control. If the seat is not with the vehicle, check with the hospital or in other vehicles involved in the crash. In some cases, children are removed from a vehicle and transported to the hospital in the child seat. In these cases, the child seat will likely end up at the hospital and may be delivered to the parent’s or child’s hospital room or, if not secured quickly, discarded. If possible, have the client place the car seat in a safe location so that it remains available to be inspected. It is also very helpful to know the make and model of the child seat at the time of the initial call. This information, as well as the date of manufacture is always found on the car seat label. If possible, photograph the label.

In addition to preserving the child seat, it is also helpful to photograph any marks, i.e. bruising, on the child. The locations of these bruises will help to identify how the harness was positioned on the child at the time of the collision. Continue reading “A Potential Client Calls About A Child Injured in A Crash – What Should You Do?”