I read a sad story yesterday on MonticelloLive today. An 18-year old driver was killed in a car accident where he and 2 other passengers were traveling at a high rate of speed on a narrow, curvy road in Monticello, Arkansas. It’s sad enough that the 18-year old was killed, but what’s worse (in my eyes) is that a 4-year old was severely injured in this accident. Thank God he survived (although we don’t know the extent of the injuries). The story reported that this child was not wearing safety restraints, now he’s in a hospital in Little Rock.
First, my heart goes out to this family… if you are reading this story, please don’t misunderstand my statements to come as an attack on you – it’s an attempt to remind others to not make the same mistake that was made in the decision to not restrain this child.
My stomach aches every time I see a car driving around with children standing up in the floorboard not restrained. I used to see it all the time in Monticello, and I see it all the time here in Kentucky (What’s funny about this is that I used to make fun of my sister-in-law for restraining her little boy until he was 6. Now I’m of the same school of thought!). I would see kids standing in the front floorboard as the driver would whip around intersections carelessly. Does it not register that the simple action of an airbag deployment will instantly kill a child standing there (or sitting in the front seat for that matter)?
My wife told me of some friends who had a roll-over accident where one of the adults were injured, but the 5 year old child was in a 5-point harness restraint system. The child walked away without a scratch. The other passengers in the vehicle stated that if had not been for that child seat, the little girl would have been injured or killed.
The Arkansas law requires that all children under the age of fifteen wear appropriate safety restraints while the vehicle is in motion. Children under the age of six, or weighing less than sixty pounds, must be secured in an approved safety seat. A number of organizations will loan you a child safety seat if you are unable to afford one. Recommended weights are 40 lbs before a child is moved to a booster seat.
Here’s my recommendation: Don’t let the law decide when to get your children out of child seats/booster seats. Use the law as MINIMUM requirement. Err on the side of safety (but dont’ put a 15-year old in a 5-point child seat, that may be a little extreme). My children, who will be 5 in September, are still in 5-point harness child seats. They will be until they are big enough for a shoulder belt can safely be used with a booster seat. Then, when they are too big to safely sit in a booster, they can just use a seatbelt.