Safety Archive

Motor Vehicle Deaths by Age

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According to the CDC leading causes of death reports from the WISQARS database, the total fatalities by age in the “MV Traffic” category from 2001 to 2010 (the most recent decade available) are as follows:

Age 0-12 months:  1,208

Age 1: 1,147

Age 2: 1,201

Age 3: 1,119

Age 4: 1,085

Age 5: 1,075

Age 6: 1,040

Age 7: 982

Age 8: 991

Age 9: 1022

Age 10: 997

There is no information provided about the whether a child restraint was present or not.  If a restraint was present, there is no information about misuse.  We don’t know if alcohol or distracted driving contributed to the fatality.  We really know nothing else about this data, other than the total number of children killed at each age.

Even given the lack of specifics on this raw data, do these numbers surprise you?  Would you have expected toddlers age 1, 2 or 3 to suffer fatal motor vehicle related injuries more frequently than babies under 1 year old, those presumably more likely to have been rear-facing in 2010 and earlier? Would you have expected booster age children age 4 and up to have more fatalities than younger kids that are more likely to be in a 5-point harness?  Or, is a pretty even distribution just what you would have expected?

Discuss!

 

Safety Features You Can’t Live Without

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A couple of weeks ago, my dd’s softball team had a fundraising car wash at a local car dealer. My SUV had already been through the line and we were winding down, so my dh had me go get his SUV from the parking lot to run through the wash tunnel. I got into the driver’s seat, did a quick adjust of the seat and rear-view mirror (he is 6’5” and I am not), started the ignition, began to back out and froze. I couldn’t remember how to do it!

I mean, of course, I back out all the time. But I have a backup camera to assist me and in his SUV, I don’t. His SUV is a 2004, before backup cameras were commonplace in vehicles; in fact, I think at that point in time, it was a nearly $1500 add-on. I looked in the rear-view mirror, looked in the side mirrors, turned and looked out the back windows, and yet still felt like I was missing huge chunks of visibility. Even though I knew no one was behind me—it was a deserted parking lot since the dealership was closed and I was the only one there at the time—I still felt like I could hit someone or something. It scared me. Anyway, I did make it safely to the wash line and handed the keys back to dh. He can have his SUV. But not for long. Soon his backup screen will be even bigger than mine or yours ;).

I know that my seat belt and airbags are an important safety feature, of course, as are the steel reinforcement bars in the door, etc., etc., etc., but for driving on a daily basis, I cannot drive without my backup camera. I’m too dependent on it. Is there a feature in your car that you’ve come to rely upon heavily?

Weight Limits: The Death of LATCH?

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LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren.  It’s the next generation of child safety.

It’s a pair of metal anchors located in the seat bight, plus a top tether anchor located somewhere behind the vehicle seat.  Combined, these anchors were to make installation of carseats much easier than using seatbelts.  With me so far?

Problem is, at least in the USA, we made a lot of concessions to automobile and child restraint manufacturers when the system was implemented.  For example, the anchors are often hard to find or access.  Also, rigid LATCH isn’t required, as it is with ISOFIX in Europe.  Center and third row seating positions may not have anchors at all.  High weight limit seats are not considered.  This last issue has become a big problem, due to the rapid proliferation in carseats with 5-point harnesses now rated above 40 pounds in the USA and *Canada.

The rules, many of which are unwritten for the typical parent, are so absolutely crazy that certified child passenger safety technicians need a 200-page reference manual to help understand it.  The average parent or caregiver? They don’t even know about the rules or manual in the first place!  Thus, misuse happens.  It’s no wonder that parents who do know about it are so confused, they simply choose not to deal with it.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:  In 2014, new federal standards, subject to petitions of the final rule, will require carseats to have another label.  This label will limit the use of lower anchors to a maximum weight for a child.  This child’s weight limit printed on each carseat, plus the weight of the carseat, must be 65 pounds combined, or less.  Thus, for any child seat that weighs over 25 pounds, it cannot be used with the lower anchors once the child is above 40 pounds (or less).  Clear as mud?

Adding to the confusion, these new federal requirements do not directly affect top tether anchors, the other component of LATCH.  Nonetheless, many automobile manufacturers are still currently limiting top tether anchor use to the same combined 65-pound [child plus carseat] weight, even when a seatbelt is used for installation.  A few still limit use to a 40- or 48-pound child weight.  That means that if you own any of these automobile makes (and you may need that 200-page manual to know which ones!), you should no longer use the top tether above this limit.  Still following me?

Of course, it is the tall and heavy kids that need top tethers the most in order to reduce head excursion, the source of severe head injury risk!  So, this is a major conflict in what we know about crash dynamics and something that could put older kids at risk.  All this leads to the following questions:

Happy 13th Birthday, Son! Now Get Back in the Back Seat.

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My son just had his 13th birthday on December 31st. Yep, a New Year’s Eve baby. We tried to get him to hold off to be the first baby born in Y2K, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with that, so the 31st it was. He’s always been a big kid: he came 3 weeks early and was 8 lbs. 5 oz., and was 40 lbs. at 3 years old, which back then was a big deal. He was never squishy fat, though (mmmm, except for his baby thighs); he was solid as a rock. Eventually J started thinning out and we actually worried about him being too thin, lol. He’s now 5’5.5″ (no, I’m not allowing him to catch up to my 5’6″ just yet) and around 92 lbs. So he’s big enough finally to sit in the front seat, right?

I guess so. The warnings in cars and on visors say that kids 12 and under should sit in the back and he *is* over 12 now. He had a couple of rides to school from his dad this past semester in the front seat because it was the only open seat; we carpool younger kiddos to school. It was a poorly kept secret from me: Giggle giggle giggle. “Guess how I got to school today, mom?” Giggle giggle giggle. But what could I do? It was raining and I wasn’t pulling my sorry butt out of my soft, warm bed at 7:15a to give him a ride when there was a car conveniently going right by his school ;). I know, bad CPS Tech. So slap me.

A day before his birthday, I wanted to get him off his computer, so I bribed J to go to the store with me. In a sing-song voice, I called to him, “Want to go to the store with me?”

“No!”

“I’ll let you ride in the front seat.”

Next thing I hear is a teen’s large feet clomping down the stairs. Glad I know what makes him tick! The whole 5 minute ride to the store was awkward at best. It was just weird having my son sitting next to me, hearing his voice from *next* to me, instead of coming from behind me. He rode home in the front seat, but I told him that was the last time for a while that he’s sitting in the front. *I’m* not ready for it. He knows the statistics—that he’s 40% more likely to be injured in the front seat—and he’s my safety kid so he tends to do what’s safest anyway. He’s still going to ride in the front seat when he’s alone with dh because he wants to be like dad, but I’m not going to sweat that. He’s old enough now, he’s big enough, and he’s less likely to be leaning out of position in the front. It’s just another sign that my kids are growing up way too fast.