Four year old, Paul Ramirez and his father were driving in the family’s van in Santa Ana this week when the unthinkable happened. Although strapped into his car seat, when Paul’s father accelerated their car from the stoplight, the door slid open and Paul fell out of the moving vehicle. Paul was rushed to UCI Medical center for emergency surgery, but tragically, the officials from the Orange County Coroner’s Office declared the toddler dead from head trauma.
Officials from the Santa Ana collision investigation unit are looking into the cause of this tragic accident. Was it a faulty sliding rail on the van or a recalled, faulty toddler car seat?
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. Furthermore, explains an Orange County car accident lawyer, the one major contributing factor to these deaths is unrestrained or improperly restrained children. Even if you were traveling at around 35mph, if left unrestrained, the impact from an accident would exert a force equivalent to your child falling from a three-story building.
Click it or Ticket (CIOT) is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign to date. It is the major factor in the decrease of both accidents and fatalities in children and adults. However, while 96% of parents and caregivers believe that their child’s safety seat is installed correctly, in realty research shows that seven out of 10 children are not buckled up right.
Many car seats are not properly installed and are not the right size for your child’s age, weight and height. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently updated its car safety seats family guidelines. Different types of car seats, vehicle types, and many other factors frequently overwhelm parents. Here is a brief overview of safety guidelines for selecting and installing your child’s car seat.
Use a rear-facing car seat for all infants to one year of age and up to 20 pounds. Currently there are two types; infant only and convertible seats. The infant only is primarily used for infants up to 20 pounds and the convertible seats are used if your infant reaches 20lbs before their first birthday. The convertible seats can then move to be a forward facing seat. Never put a rear-facing seat in the front seat of your car, especially if it has an active airbag. Always put an infant in the back seat.
Toddlers and preschoolers should always be in forward facing seats. Always check the models’ specifications, but generally they are used for children between one to four years of age. Additionally, since many toddlers’ have various weight ranges, the weight requirements are generally up to 65 pounds. Many children will outgrow this seat when they are 4 or 5. When the top of their ears/head are at the top of the seat, then it’s time to move them to a taller car seat for older children or a booster chair.
Use a booster chair until your child’s weighs between 80 and 100 pounds and is at least 4 feet, nine inches tall. These are always used in the back seat of a car. Most children will graduate from the booster chair sometime between the ages of 8 and 12, of course depending on weight and height of the child. Booster seats should never be used with a lap belt, only a three point seat belt.
The last phase is a regular seat belt. There is a fit test that all kids must pass before allowing them to use a regular seat belt. Basically, the child must sit all the way back on the vehicle seat and the knees should bend naturally at the seat’s edge. When your child outgrows the booster seat, they are now safe to use a regular seat belt. However, only when your child is 15 years old can they safely sit in the front seat.
For a copy of this guideline, visit www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm
If you ever have questions regarding the proper installation of your child’s car seat, click on over to http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/contacts/. They will connect you with a child safety service technician in your area. They will make sure that your child’s car seat is secured properly.
Additional information on Orange County car accidents, including articles covering recent studies and statistics, is available to the public free of charge.
The Orange County car accident lawyers at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis, and Leslie would like to offer their condolences to the family of Paul Ramirez. They will be in our thoughts and prayers.
To request an article or book, or to speak with an Orange County car accident lawyer, feel free to call 1-888-834 5055.
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