So-called Safe Driving Experts Post Dangerous Advice about Child Safety in Cars

How can the American public be expected to know what’s safest for themselves and their children when supposedly trustworthy sources so often publish incorrect and unsafe “advice” about safe driving techniques, or — as in this case — post highly inappropriate photographs or illustrations showing dangerous scenarios as though they are correct and acceptable?

California DMV

The photograph below first came to our attention when it was posted — outrageously — by no less an organization than the California DMV, so our first questions to them are:  Who is responsible for this?  Do they know nothing about safe driving and child safety at all?

This photograph is meant to show good child safety for the three children in the back seat of this car but all three are wearing their seatbelts in a dangerous manner (see the text of the article)/
This photograph is meant to show good child safety for the three children in the back seat of this car but all three are wearing their seatbelts in a dangerous manner (see the text of the article) — We do not claim to have copyright permission to post this image but do claim the legal right to do so for discussion of an important aspect of public safety.

The dangers shown here are that (a) the girl in the center of the three unavoidably has her seatbelt to high and effectively across her neck.  In the event of a collision, this alone could kill her.  The girl on the left also has her belt too high but not as badly as the first one.  (b) The girl on the right has her belt across her upper arm, below the shoulder (see the Irish Examiner article, linked below, for a better view of this) and there is no way this would restrain her correctly in a collision where, at the very least it might be expected to cause serious arm or shoulder injuries.

The photograph is, however, at least two years old.  We now know that a version of it was published by the Irish Examiner (newspaper) on July 04, 2015, in the ironically titled “How to keep kids well when travelling by car,”  which was about car sickness but was apparently oblivious to child seatbelt safety

Then, just three days afterwards, yet another version was published by the Gerber Life Insurance Agency, in “Activities to Keep Kids Happily Occupied  During Road Travel.”  Come on, Gerber.  Surely you have someone who should definitely have picked up on this?

The fact that these three sources all used different versions of one image might suggest that they originated from a picture library, in which case we would suggest that while such libraries are in business purely to sell images, they DO have a responsibility not to trade in misleadingly dangerous pictures!

Two Children Survive Fatal Rollover Crash Because of their Child Seats

A woman in Maine was killed when she drove off the road and her vehicle rolled over.  Two children survived the horrendous crash despite the car not being found for more than 18 hours, and their survival is being put down to them being correctly fastened in their child seats — something that is often not done properly by too many parents.

Photo of pre-installed child seats in a Tesla car.
Some well-equipped new cars come with special child seats already fitted, such as this Tesla Model S, but most do not. Getting expert help with fitting child seats is commonly both free and easy in all states. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Correctly fitting child seats is critical.  Many parents don’t do it properly but are dangerously confident that they’ve got it right.

Video report: Mom dies, car seats save Maine toddlers in rollover crash


Safe Transportation of Preterm and Low Birth Weight Babies Requires Special Considerations

Every parent should be aware that their newborn child must be restrained in a rear-facing child restraint system (CRS), whether an infant-only seat or a convertible seat in the rear-facing position, when they come home from the hospital — and, of course, on every subsequent trip in a motor vehicle. What parents may not know, however, is how to approach child passenger safety if their child has a low birth weight and/or is born prematurely, which is typically defined at earlier than 37 weeks.

There are health risks specific to premature or low-birth weight (5.5 pounds or under) infants when placed in a traditional CRS, including an increased risk of oxygen desaturation, apnea and/or bradycardia. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has more information on these conditions here.

Therefore, safe transportation of preterm and low birth weight infants requires special considerations. Before leaving the hospital, the infant must pass the “car seat test,” where they are seated in a CRS provided by the parents for a specific length of time while his or her breathing, heart rate, and oxygen level are monitored. If deemed necessary, the medical team may recommend a car bed, which allows the infant to lie down while traveling and help to avoid the medical signs listed above. Babies in car beds need to be monitored by an adult other than the driver, and car trips should be limited until the child is medically approved to transition to a traditional rear-facing CRS….

Read the rest of this excellent and important article from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Injury Research and Prevention, here.