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Older children don't buckle up

By: Jack Nerad for Driving Today

Date: Friday, 08. April 2011

While parents are doing a better job of securing young children in child safety seats, children aged eight to 15 ride unbuckled and die in car crashes at rates approaching those of adults, according to recent U.S. federal data.

"As kids get older, they become less likely to wear their seat belts and become more likely to die in car crashes," said Steve Nolan, AAA Chicago spokesman. "These 8-15 year-olds will soon be riding in cars driven by teenage siblings and friends, making it all the more important that they be buckled up. Parents and others need to make these older children into full- time seat belt users now."

Data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that as children get older, their fatality rates go up and their seat belt usage goes down. In 2002 (the most recent year available), 1,209 children ages 8-15 were killed while riding in cars--up eight percent from 2001. Other age groups of children (0-3 and 4-7) saw fatalities decrease by six percent and 15 percent, respectively, during the same period. More than half (56 percent) of the older children killed in car crashes were not wearing their seat belts, a rate that approaches the 58 percent non-use rate for adults in fatal crashes.

"AAA and the safety community have made great strides in improving safety seat use for young children, but there's still more that we can do to keep our kids safe," said Nolan. "Fortunately, keeping older children safe requires little more than making sure they use a seat belt every time they ride in a car. The habits they form now will last a lifetime."

Child safety laws on upswing

Traffic accidents are still the top killer of children in the United States, but the good news is laws to protect children riding in cars are getting stronger. A report released by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign revealed that 27 states have upgraded their child occupant protection laws since 2001, with 23 states (up from only two) now covering booster seat-aged children.

A similar study just three years ago found startling gaps in legal requirements related to age, seating position, and lack of appropriate child safety seat use. While there have been dramatic strides in changing our laws, more than half of states still do not adequately protect booster-aged children, the organization said.

"This tremendous legislative success can only be rivaled by the amount of activity that took place in the early 1980s when states first began to enact child passenger safety laws," said Heather Paul, Ph.D., executive director, National SAFE KIDS Campaign. "We applaud the dedication of countless advocates, state legislators, and governors who worked tirelessly in 27 states to upgrade their laws. We know strong child passenger safety laws are a proven deterrent to the number one killer of kids, motor vehicle crashes. However, we're disconcerted to know that the majority of states still don't mandate that kids ride in booster seats."

In 2001, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign launched a five-year initiative to improve state child occupant protection laws. For the past three years, SAFE KIDS coalitions and chapters have worked with government agencies, safety organizations, law enforcement agencies, and state legislatures nationwide to close the gaps and strengthen child occupant protection laws.

The report showed more than half of states (26 and the District of Columbia) have upgraded their child occupant protection laws in the last three years, and 22 states and the District of Columbia now have booster seat laws that require older children to use appropriate child safety seats, as opposed to two states (California and Washington) in February 2001.

Parents should read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for child restraints to ensure proper age, weight and fit requirements. All children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat. Additional child passenger safety information can be found online at in the section: "For Kids' Sake."

� Studio One Networks

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I luh yew La Fawnduh. you so write about all dat stuff about dem kidz. not bucklin. BUCKLE YO SEAT BELTZ. OR ILL BE ANGRYZ. AND KICK YEW.

La Fawnduh,

i think dat dis iz so stupidz. like kidz need ta buckle they beltz. i mean forealz.

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