car accidents

Iowa Child Car Crash Fatalities Rank 4th Highest in Nation


When it comes to driving with kids in the car, parents and other adults should be following the proper guidelines to keep children safe. This is especially important with a person being injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes in the United States. But unfortunately, Iowa continues to have the fourth-highest child car crash fatality rate in the country.

Iowa is one of the few states that still operates under a child restraint law that does not follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to Pam Hoogerwoof, director of Injury Prevention and Community Outreach at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, about 70 to 75% of people in Iowa are using car seats incorrectly.

"Some of that has to do with our law," explained Hoogerwerf. "People are turning their kids around to be forward-facing too soon and putting kids in seat belts when they should be in booster seats."

Currently, the Iowa law requires that children who are under one year of age and weigh less than 20 pounds to be in a rear-facing car seat. The Iowa state law is not considered a "best practice" by certified professionals. Unfortunately, it can be unexpectantly difficult to buy safe and affordable car seats, along with knowing how to properly install them.

According to a DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, in 2016 alone there were 24 children 14 years old and younger who died in Iowa. And a Safewise report found that, on average, there are about four children per 100,000 child residents who die in car accidents every year in the state.

According to Lauren O'Donnell, Injury Preventing and Community Outreach coordinator, parents should be keeping their children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats can lessen the severity of injuries like spinal injuries. While there is the possibility of leg injuries in rear-facing car seats, those are much less severe than spinal injuries.

There are a lot of different ways drivers could decrease the chances of accidents -- studies show that even a .62 mph decrease in driving speed could lead to a 2-3% reduction in car accidents. But since people can't control the actions of other drivers, parents and adults should ensure children are as safe as possible in the car.

Data shows that the top 10 states with the lowest child crash death rates are those with higher fines for child safety seat law violations -- the states with the lowest death rates have an average fine of $106 while those with the highest rates only have an average fine of $45.

Along with following the recommended guidelines for car seat use, adults can ensure they register the car seat with the manufacturer to be notified of updates or recalls and the car seat instructions should always be read before use. Making a few simple changes to how car seats are used could prevent young children from getting severely injured in the event of a car accident.

For full story, pick up a copy of the MONTH XX issue of The Allegan County News/The Union Enterprise/The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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