New program aims to curb child deaths in autos
Traffic accidents No. 1 killer of kids under 14
August 28, 1997
Web posted at: 8:55 p.m. EDT (0055 GMT)
From Correspondent Kyoko Altman
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for children under the age of 14, often because the child is not wearing a seatbelt.
Despite child restraint laws in all 50 states, the government estimates that 40 percent of all children still ride without a seatbelt. Nearly 1,400 children die and 280,000 are injured every year in automobile accidents.
Ian Kahn, 4 months old, died in a crash when his mother momentarily removed him from his car seat.
"My wife took Ian out of the seat to feed him and we crashed," says his father, Michael.
The government has decided to tackle the problem head-on by launching a new program called "Safe Kids Buckle Up."
One of the points it emphasizes is that while thousands of children's lives are saved each year by seatbelts and other passive restraints, knowing how to fasten them can be critical.
There are more than 50 safety seat styles available in car seats for children, and even more ways of fastening them. The government estimates that about 80 percent of the parents aren't doing it correctly.
Wrong seat is common mistake
"It's very confusing, very confusing," said Diane Jordan, speaking of her travails with car seats. "You really don't know what you're getting until you get it."
One common mistake parents make is using a car seat that is inappropriate for their child's age and weight.
Babies under 1 year old and weighing less than 20 pounds should be in seats that face backward to protect their necks from whiplash.
Those between 20 and 40 pounds -- usually up to about 4 years old -- can be put in seats that face forward. And there is yet another seat for children up to 80 pounds, or about 8 years old.
Experts say no matter what the age, youngsters are safer in the back seat, and they say parents should be sure the straps and seatbelts are securely cinched so the seats don't slide.
One final bit of advice to parents: be sure the adults are buckled in, too.