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By contactus@napeds.com
September 23, 2013
Category: In the News
Tags: Untagged

Parents often neglect to properly buckle children
Source: Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

One-fifth of parents say it's OK to skip child seat belts on short trips, survey finds. That could lead to tragic consequences: Over 60% of child-involved auto crashes come within 10 minutes of home.

A new survey finds that as many as one out of five parents believe it's OK to drive with their children unbuckled if it's a short trip, despite the emphasis placed on child passenger safety.

The survey by the child advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide and General Motors Foundation finds that more than one-fifth of parents – 21% -- think it's acceptable to drive with their child unrestrained if they are not driving far.

In reality, more than 60% of crashes involving children occur within 10 minutes of home, according to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Injury Research and Prevention.

"Historically, we've encountered that attitude before with adults (and seat belts)," says Julie Kleinert, a child safety specialist at General Motors. "People think that if they're not going very far, they don't need to wear their seat belt. I think we need to get the message out to people that they're at risk whether going a short distance or a long distance."

The June national online survey of 1,002 parents and caregivers of children ages 10 and under has a 3.1% margin of error, Safe Kids say.

It also found some puzzling trends among those who self-reported that it's sometimes acceptable to let a child ride unrestrained.

More affluent parents, more educated parents, fathers and younger parents were more likely to say it was OK to ride unrestrained. For example, 34% of parents with an annual household income of $100,000 or more said it was sometimes acceptable to do that compared with just 15% of parents making less than $35,000. Parents with graduate degrees were twice as likely as parents with a high school education – 20% to 10% -- to do it.

Researchers don't yet have an explanation for those trends, says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations working to prevent childhood injuries. "We haven't done a focus group yet that would ask, Do they think their car is safer? Do they think they're a safer driver?"

Her organization (www.safekids.org) offers parents of young children three key pieces of advice:

•Buckle up children on every ride, every time.

•Talk to other parents who are driving your kids about the importance of buckling up.

•Check that the right child safety seat is being used and that it's installed properly.

In addition, Carr and Kleinert say parents should never treat buckling up as a punishment, something they don't have to do if they have been well-behaved; rather, they say, it should be automatic.

With children in booster seats, the restraint shouldn't be removed even if the child doesn't like it, they say.

That's a lesson Ed Beaudette, 49, of Nevada City, Calif., knows all too well. On July 20, 2003, he was returning from vacation with his 9-month-old daughter, Nora. She was irritable, and seemed hot and uncomfortable. Her mother, Heidi Obenosky, unbuckled Nora to remove some of her clothes.

Before Nora was buckled back in, Beaudette nodded off and crashed. Nora was killed.

Beaudette and Obenosky became child safety seat advocates. "I saw a poster that said, 'A crying baby is an alive baby,'" Beaudette says. "That really hit me. Had I just ignored my parental compassion and used common sense and let Nora cry a few more miles, right now I'd be making plans for Nora's 11th birthday instead of talking to you."

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