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Child fatality study highlights the importance of seat belts

Research suggests that the lives of more than 200 children under the age of 15 could be saved each year if every state were to pass seat belt laws as strict as those of New York. The Empire State requires children under the age of 16 to be properly restrained at all times and allows children under the age of 8 to ride only when secured in an approved carrier or by an appropriate restraint. Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Harvard University say that child accident fatalities could be reduced by as much as 40 percent if one in ten more children fastened their safety belts.

The researchers came to this conclusion after studying 18,116 fatal crashes involving children. They found that most of the 2,885 children killed on the nation's roads between 2010 and 2014 lost their lives in crashes that occurred at speeds of between 45 and 60 mph. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that one in five of these children were not secured by a seat belt when they were killed, and a further 13 percent lost their lives while improperly sitting in the front of vehicles.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, also reveals that children are safer when police enforce traffic safety laws strictly. Southern states have the nation's most dangerous roads for children according to the research, and children in the Northeast are the most likely in the nation to complete their road trips without incident.

Police generally investigate motor vehicle accidents thoroughly when children have lost their lives, and the information they gather can be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish liability in lawsuits filed by their surviving family members. The standard of proof in civil cases is not as strict as it is in criminal proceedings, and police reports and accident investigations can be extremely useful in car accident litigation even in situations where no charges were filed.

Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, "Safety Restraints", accessed on May 29, 2017

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