Improper Car Seat Use is Hurting Kids in Texas
Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children. Unfortunately, many of these tragic deaths are likely avoidable. Why? According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, parents and caretakers aren’t using car seats – or child restraint systems – properly. It’s estimated that nearly half – 46 percent – of car seats are misused.
How Many Kids Are Injured and Killed in Austin Car Accidents?
Accident data for the state of Texas reveals that, in 2018, 62 children under the age of 8 were killed in car accidents in Texas. A quarter of those children (16 of 62) weren’t restrained at all during those fatal crashes.
56 children between the ages of 8 and 12 were also killed in Texas car accidents in 2018. More than one-third of those children (21 of 56) were unrestrained at the time of their respective accidents.
In Austin, alone, there were 23 car accidents involving children under the age of 8. In those accidents, 25 kids were injured and 2 were killed.
Using a Car Seat (Properly) Significantly Reduces the Risk of Injury and Death
Cars are designed to transport adult passengers. The seats are built to accommodate adults. So are seat belts. Kids are smaller than adults. They don’t have the bone structure and density. While a seat belt might save an adult’s life, it doesn’t offer the same level of protection to a child.
That’s why child car restraint systems were developed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using a car seat (properly) can reduce the risk of death for infants by a whopping 71 percent. A car seat more than halves the risk of fatal injury for toddlers (54 percent).
Parents, Caregivers Must Know Texas Car Seat Laws
Anyone who is going to transport a child in a motor vehicle in Texas must be aware of the state’s car seat laws. Ignoring state car seat rules is not only illegal, but incredibly dangerous.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. That is, until the child reaches the height and/or weight limits of their seat. Texas law is not as stringent.
In Texas, car seat laws and requirements focus on a child’s age.
Children Under the Age of 2:
- Rear-facing until age two, unless the child reaches the height or weight limits at an earlier age.
Children Between the Ages of 2 and 4:
- Forward-facing in a car seat, in compliance with manufacturer instructions
Children Between the Ages of 4 and 8:
- Forward-facing in a booster seat until the child reaches the weight or height limits
Children Over the Age of 8
- Restrained with the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt.
In Texas, any child under the age of 13 should always be in the back seat.
Not Using a Car Seat Properly Can Hurt Your Texas Personal Injury Case
What happens if you get into a car accident in Austin with a child who’s not properly restrained in a car seat? Your ability to recover compensation could be jeopardized.
Why? You have a responsibility to mitigate your injuries. You have to take certain precautions to limit the extent of the harm you sustain in an accident. For adults, this involves wearing a seat belt at all times. For children, this involves being properly restrained in an approved child restraint system (car seat or booster).
By not doing these things, you’re increasing the likelihood of suffering a severe or fatal injury if you’re in an accident. Responsibility for that falls on you, not the driver who hit you. At least, that will be their argument.
It’s also important to consider that Texas is a modified comparative fault state. This means that your own contributions to an accident or injury will affect your ability to obtain compensation. You’ll be barred from recovering damages if you’re more than 50 percent responsible for an accident or resulting injuries. If your child got hurt and wasn’t buckled up at the time of an accident, other parties involved will use this to argue that they shouldn’t be (at least entirely) financially accountable for resulting harm.