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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer talks about proposed new safety measures for children traveling in passenger vehicles

Accidental injury is the leading cause of child death in the United States, according to Matthew R. Maltese, head of biomechanics research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States.

In 2011, more than 650 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes and more than 148,000 were injured. Of the children who died in a crash in 2011, 33% were not bucked up. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health Pennsylvania 2012 Child Death Review Annual Report, motor vehicle and other transport deaths accounted for 12% of total child deaths in Pennsylvania in 2011.

Many of these deaths could have been prevented. An NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Research Study found that 72% of nearly 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash. Buckling children in proper age and size appropriate car seats and seat belts and following directions for proper installation reduces the rise of serious and fatal injuries. The CDC reports that car seat use in passenger vehicles reduces the risk for death to infants under 1 year of age by 71% and for toddlers ages 1-4 years by 54%.

Up to now, federal rules have covered only how well car seats protect children in crashes from the front, but side-impact crashes can also hurt children in a variety of ways. While the door can intrude and strike a child in a car seat, the sheer impact of a collision can cause a child’s head to move suddenly and hit the seat or a part of the vehicle’s interior.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier this year proposed upgrades to the federal motor vehicle safety standard for child-restraint systems to ensure child passengers are protected in side crashes. The proposed upgrades would include a first-ever side impact test for car seats sold in the U.S. that are designed for children weighing up to 40 pounds. Under the proposed rule, the seats would for the first time have to pass a test that simulates a typical side-impact vehicle crash.

Under the proposal, car seats would be tested in a specially designed sled test that simulates a “T-bone” crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 30 mph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 15 mph. The sled test is the first of its kind in the world being proposed for regulation, as it simulates both the acceleration of the struck vehicle and the vehicle door crushing toward the car seat. In addition to using an existing 12-month-old child dummy, the proposed test will also utilize a newly developed side-impact dummy representing a 3-year-old child. The agency proposed a 3-year timeframe for car-seat manufacturers to make any necessary changes to meet the proposed requirements upon final rule publication. The public still has time to comment on the proposed regulations.

While you’re on the road, you can help prevent tragedy by making sure you child is safely secured in a child safety seat that has been properly installed. Find information on Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety laws and car seat recommendations for children on the Just Drive PA website at

If you or someone you know has a child that has been injured in a car accident call Caroline Munley and the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys at 855-866-5529.

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Posted in Car Accidents.

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