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Seat belt use a key factor in fatal accidents involving children

Motorists on Oklahoma roads are required to ensure that all of their child passengers are securely restrained by safety belts, harnesses or child seats, but figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that law enforcement may not be doing enough to enforce this. Data from the agency's Fatality Analysis Reporting System was used by researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Harvard University to study fatal accidents involving children under the age of 15, and they found that strict seat belt laws and rigorous enforcement efforts play a crucial role in reducing child mortality rates.

According to the FARS data, 20 percent of the children killed in automobile accidents between 2010 and 2014 were not wearing seat belts or were inadequately restrained when the vehicles they were traveling in crashed. After studying the figures, the researchers concluded that child fatalities could be reduced by as much as 40 percent if seat belt use increased by just 10 percent. The study also reveals that the roads in Southern states are particularly dangerous for young passengers. While the child mortality rate for the nation as a whole was .94 per 100,000 children according to the report, that figure more than doubled to 2.02 in Oklahoma.

Fastening seat belts is particularly important for child passengers because the FARS data shows that they most often lose their lives in vehicles that crash at speeds of between 45 and 60 mph. The Harvard and UT study also reveals that children in the Northeast are the most likely in the nation to reach their destinations unharmed with the roads in New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts being particularly safe.

It can be difficult to calculate damages in car accident lawsuits when children have been killed, and experienced personal injury attorneys may consult with educators and athletics coaches before initiating wrongful death lawsuits. While children are not breadwinners, the defendants in car accident lawsuits may be more motivated to settle quickly when children with great potential have been killed.

Source: The Oklahoma State Department of Health, "Child Passenger Safety Restraints", accessed on June 6, 2017

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