Kids are safer strapped in the back seat of the car

In a new study emphasis has been placed on where children should be seated in a car and though it may seem common-sense or a case of stating the blindingly obvious, the report is a reminder to parents to consciously recognise that children are safer in car crashes when they sit in the back seat and are less likely to be injured when safety seats and seat belts are used.

Dr. Flaura Winston, a paediatrician and chief investigator of the study says the decision about where a child sits in a car could be one of the single most important lifesaving ones parents can make for their child.

Winston says parents must use the rear seat and age and size appropriate restraints during every car ride, every time.

The study was sponsored by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the American Academy of Paediatrics and the world's largest insurer, State Farm Insurance. The findings are based on information from more than 370,000 State Farm policyholders involved in car crashes.

The researchers say the combination of sitting in the back seat and using safety restraints could have prevented more than 1,000 of the 3,665 serious injuries to children under 16 in crashes, and also notes that almost a third of almost 1,800 children who died in car crashes in 2003 were riding in the front seat and more than half were not strapped in.

Children were found to be 40 percent safer when in the back seat rather than the front in car crashes, and the risk of injury dropped to less than 2 percent when safety seats and seat belts were used.

Winston said parents often give in to children who have outgrown safety seats and want to ride up front, where they can be injured by dashboards, windshields or air bags, and adds that issues such as bedtimes or eating peas for dinner may be negotiable, but safety should never be.

The report concluded that minivans, large cars and sport-utility vehicles were the safest for children, while smaller vehicles had higher injury rates.

Winston says that safety improvements and increased safety seat and seat belt use have reduced child fatality rates to 1.5 per 100 million miles driven in 2003 from 2.3 per 100 million miles in 1988.

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