Just How Safe Are Children in the Back Seat?

Transportation by motor vehicle is an inevitable part of American society these days.  Missouri adults and children alike typically ride in some combination of buses, cars, trucks, trains, and other vehicles on a daily basis.  Another unfortunate inevitability in our country is that many people will fall victim to a motor vehicle accident at some point or another.  For adults, this can be difficult enough to handle; but when a parent’s child is in danger, it can be even more frightening.  In cases where children are seriously injured or killed, parents may find it appropriate to contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney in order to discover whether they may be able to seek financial restitution to cover the medical bills incurred as a result of another party’s negligence.

It may come as no surprise to many of our Missouri readers to learn that motor vehicle accidents account for the vast majority of deaths for children under the age of 14.  According to an article published in 2005, over 1,500 children in that age range died in car crashes in 2002.  A staggering 270,000 children suffered injuries in auto accidents that same year.  This means that, on average, six children died and 721 were injured on a daily basis during 2002.  Conscientious parents often ask themselves how they can best protect their children when it comes to riding in automobiles.

Back Seat to Ride for Kids Campaign

For the past few decades, ever since car manufacturers began installing front-seat air bags that tended to deploy much too aggressively in the 1980s, the common advice has been to always put children age 12 and younger in the back seat to ride in vehicles.  The auto industry paid big bucks to help fund a safety campaign meant to teach drivers the importance of putting children in the rear when riding in motor vehicles.  Chrysler in particular teamed up with both the American Automobile Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics to get their message out to principals, school boards, teachers, and even PTA presidents.  With this increased emphasis on improving child safety on the roads by making them ride in the back seat, it would make sense that auto manufacturers should also focus on maximizing the safety of back seat environments for the nation’s precious children.

It would make sense – but that’s not necessarily how it has actually played out.

Ironically, despite the fact that auto manufacturers have been so adamant in advising parents and other drivers to put children in the back seat, they have actually given scant thought to the logistics of improving rear-seat lap and shoulder belts as far as children are concerned.  In fact, safety testing for such safety devices are typically conducted on the 50th percentile male dummy, which is the equivalent height of a 5-foot, 9-inch adult weighing 172 pounds.  Very little testing is done to see how these belts will affect children in the 4-to-12-years-old range.

Lack of Federal Safety Standards for Rear-Seat Restraint Systems

Even more disturbing is the fact that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards do not mandate any particular performance standards for rear-seat restraint systems.  There are also no across-the-board federal safety regulations requiring the testing of rear-seat lap and shoulder belt safety on child-sized test dummies, or testing this type of child dummy with aftermarket child seats.

As early as the 1990s, the government and medical community alike began to warn the automotive industry just how badly injured children under the age of 12 could become when involved in accidents while wearing rear-seat lap/shoulder belts or lap-only belts.  Children are killed at an astonishingly high rate when compared to adults who survive the same accidents with minor injuries, and those children who do survive often suffer terrible injuries to their heads, spines, and abdominal areas.  How could this happen?

The sad and inescapable truth is that most rear-seat and restraint systems simply are not designed with children in mind, especially those between the ages of 4 and 12.  And, until auto manufacturers begin regularly testing these systems on child-sized crash dummies, far too many children will continue being seriously injured; and, in the most tragic cases, losing their lives.

Contact Us Now for a Free Consultation

If your child or that of a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a car accident due to inadequate rear seat design or safety belts, please contact my law firm today.  As an experienced St. Louis personal injury attorney with several decades’ worth of litigation under my belt, I truly love representing patients who have been harmed by the negligence of others in order to help them obtain the justice they deserve.  While monetary compensation cannot fully take away the pain and suffering caused by a motor vehicle accident, it can often alleviate much of the financial strain caused by astronomical medical bills or other expenses incurred after a car crash.

Remember – the earlier you act, the better, since preserving evidence that could be crucial for your case is easier to do sooner rather than later.

I would be more than happy to meet with you at my law firm for a free consultation in order to discuss the facts of your case to determine what your best course of legal action might be.  Consulting me will be absolutely free of charge, and only in the event that my firm obtains compensation on your behalf will you pay anything.  Please call my St. Louis, Missouri personal injury car accident law firm toll-free at 1-888-586-7041 and we can make an appointment at your earliest convenience.

Disclaimer:  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

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