According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children 12 and younger. In Illinois, there were 957 fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in 2010. Nearly 40 of these victims were children.
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School zones do not guarantee safety
Even when children are not the passengers in a vehicle, they are at risk of a fatal crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, nearly one-fifth of the children who died in traffic accidents in 2010 were pedestrians between the ages of five and nine.
School zones with lowered speed limits, warning signs and crosswalks are designed to protect children. In spite of these precautions, many children are killed while walking to or from school. At a speed of 20 miles per hour, a vehicle takes about 23 feet to stop after the driver applies the brakes. Recently, a car hit a 12-year-old boy as he boarded a stopped school bus. Although the bus’s stop sign was out, the lights were flashing, and the bus driver honked the horn, the driver failed to stop in time. The boy was thrown about 40 feet and sustained injuries to his leg, head, and face. This accident is just an example of how important it is for drivers to be alert and aware of surroundings to prevent pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Car seats save lives when used properly
Parents assume that putting children in car seats will prevent injuries and fatalities in an accident. However, a car seat may not be effective in a crash if the car seat is installed incorrectly. Only 60 percent of the car seats in the state are used correctly, according to information from the Illinois Department of Transportation. In a statewide effort to ensure car seat safety, Illinois officials urge parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until the age of two.
During the school year, parents who carpool may find it difficult to shift booster and car seats from vehicle to vehicle so that all the children in the car are wearing age-appropriate restraints. Age, weight, and height are critical factors in ensuring safety. Small children are safest in a five-point harness seat, and the Illinois’ car seat safety program urges parents to keep toddler seats rear-facing until the age of two. Children under 4’9” should be in a booster seat when using an adult safety belt to reduce the risk of injury. Any person who is transporting children should make sure that all seats are present and installed correctly before putting children in the vehicle.
It is always a tragedy when a child is the victim of a car accident. Parents of children injured in crashes may be entitled to compensation to cover medical costs, disabilities, pain, and suffering. An experienced Illinois personal injury attorney can help navigate the legal system and ensure that justice is served.