Archive for the ‘child safety’ Tag

When is it OK for Your Child to Ride in the Front Seat?

Recently, we’ve started letting our oldest child who is 10 years old (and big for his age) ride in the front seat. Our logic was he’s as tall and weighs as much as an adult so why wouldn’t he be OK?

Apparently, our logic isn’t aligned with what the experts say on the matter.

As with so many parenting issues, the question of when to let your child ride in the front seat can be confusing. But I did discover the age most experts agree on and why.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all recommend that children stay in the back seat until age 13.

Dr. Susan Bolton, a pediatrician at Christie Clinic, says the size of the child doesn’t matter. It’s all about their age.

“All children under 13 years of age should ride in the back seat regardless of height and weight,” Bolton said.

Bolton says there are several reasons why. A major factor is younger children haven’t fully developed their bones yet, which increases the risk to vital organs in a motor vehicle crash.

“Although children under age 13 may weigh as much or be as tall as some adults, their hip bones are not fully developed,” Bolton said. “Even if the lap belt starts out in the right place, it can ride up onto the abdomen in children which increases the risk of injury to the abdominal organs in a motor vehicle crash.”

Bolton added the sternum (the breast bone) may not be fully developed until 11-17 years of age, which puts the child at increased risk of injury to the heart and lungs in a crash.

Also, the three items in the vehicle that are responsible for the most injuries during a motor vehicle crash are the windshield, the dashboard and the air bag. Bolton said children properly buckled up in the back seat are not likely to come into contact with these items.

Studies have shown that after the age of 13, the risk of injury to a child in a crash becomes equal to the risk in an adult.

The Illinois Secretary of State guidelines, which are based on AAP recommendations, also say children should be kept in the back seat until they are teenagers.

In fact, the state of Illinois guidelines go on to say 8-12-year-olds who aren’t big enough to fit properly in a seatbelt alone should sit in a booster seat. (The image below shows how a seatbelt should properly fit your child.)

man-in-belt-with-captions

The general consensus says seat belts don’t typically fit children properly until they are at least 57 inches tall (4 feet 9 inches) and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.

That means small 7th graders should be in a booster seat? I imagine that would be a tough sell for some tweens.

I’m guessing it’s also going to be difficult for my son when I tell him he has to return to the back seat with his little brother and sister.

I’ll just blame it on the experts.

For more information about children’s seatbelt safety laws and guidelines, go to the Secretary of State’s website.

Read more at: http://www.chambanamoms.com/2016/08/19/okay-child-ride-front-seat/

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Children take more risks crossing streets than parents think

Reuters Health – Children may cut things closer than their parents realize when it comes to guessing how far cars are from an intersection or how long it takes to safely reach the other side, a small study suggests.

Using virtual reality, researchers tested how often kids might walk into oncoming traffic in real life. The results show that “parents may be over-estimating how careful their children are” and missing opportunities to teach kids safer habits, study author Dr. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, said in an email.

Morrongiello and co-author Michael Corbett recruited 139 children and their parents to participate in the virtual street-crossing experiment in Guelph, a suburban community about 45 minutes from Toronto.

Study participants wore headsets outfitted with a 3-D display and motion sensors to detect every real step they took into virtual streets. Participants stood at an intersection on a virtual two-way street with sidewalks, enhanced by traffic sounds that got louder as cars approached.

After a trial run for the children to practice using the equipment, the researchers asked kids to cross the virtual street when they thought traffic conditions were safe.

Researchers measured how many seconds the virtual cars were from hitting kids when they crossed the street. Then, they put parents in the same situation and asked them when they thought their kids would attempt to cross.

Parents generally expected their kids not to cross the street when an oncoming car was less than 4 seconds away, while the children crossed into traffic with tighter gaps of about 3 seconds, the study found.

Children were hit by virtual cars about six percent of the time.

Younger kids, aged 7 to 9, typically walked into traffic when an approaching car was about 2.95 seconds away, while their parents generally thought the children would allow for a gap of 4.19 seconds.

Older children, aged 10 to 12, on average allowed for a 3.03 second gap, while their parents thought they would let 3.85 seconds pass.

It’s possible that these suburban kids aren’t as savvy about traffic as their urban counterparts, and it’s also possible that the children took more risks in the virtual world than they would in real life, the authors acknowledge in the journal Injury Prevention.

But the findings still reveal a real danger, Dr. Frederick Rivara, vice chair of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in an email.

“Parents need to be realistic about their children’s developmental level,” said Rivara, who wasn’t involved in the study. “I call it the Lake Wobegon effect – all parents think their kids are above average, when of course, most kids are average. The issue with pedestrian safety is that an error here can result in the child being seriously injured.”

To keep kids safe, parents need to start by setting a good example, David Schwebel, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in an email. “Children learn a lot just by watching, and if parents behave in dangerous ways, their children are likely to do so also.”

Pedestrian safety lessons can start at any age, and it’s especially crucial to begin early when children live in cities where they will be exposed to busy intersections from a very young age, said Schwebel, who wasn’t involved in the study.

For toddlers, parents can talk about what safety choices they make each time they cross the street, from looking both ways to making eye contact with drivers, said Jodie Plumert, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

By the time children are 4 or 5 years old, it’s smart for parents to start letting children make the decision about when it’s safe to cross street, starting of course with residential streets with light traffic before trying busy intersections, said Plumert, who wasn’t involved in the study. This lets parents gently correct bad choices so kids can fine-tune their instincts about when it’s safe to cross.

“I’m a big fan of talking to kids about why they need to follow particular rules or procedures for crossing safely,” Plumert said by email. “As soon as kids start walking across streets with their parents, parents can start teaching street safety to them.”

SOURCE: bmj.co/1ChoNjD Injury Prevention, online March 31, 2015.