I am not normally one to use scare tactics to reinforce child passenger safety information. However, I want to share with you the story of a real-life accident, which I heard from a fellow CPS advocate. I hope you will take a few minutes to read it.
The children were seated this way: A 3-year-old in a forward-facing seat on the driver’s side, a 5-year-old in a lap/shoulder belt on the passenger side, and an 8-year-old in a lap-only belt in the middle.
The father had turned around to yell at the kids to sit properly in their seat belts. He wasn’t paying attention and ran into the back of a stopped truck, at 65 mph.
The 3-year-old had a big bruise on his stomach from an improperly positioned chest clip. It also appeared that he had whiplash, because he wouldn’t turn his head to either side.
The 5-year-old suffered huge bruises to his chest and stomach, and almost bled to death from a deep cut in his neck from the seatbelt.
The 8-year-old hit his face on the center console, breaking his nose and lower jaw. His intestines were sliced in several places from the forces of the lap belt.
One year later:
At 9, the oldest still has some hip problems and walks with the help of crutches. He developed extreme IBS and reflux after his intestines healed (they are now 8″ shorter), and has a permanent GI tube in his stomach. He’s had a ton of corrective plastic surgery and is now a year behind in school.
The youngest is 4. Mentally, he is doing the worst. He no longer speaks, has anxiety attacks in public places, and still fights getting in the car.
The middle boy, now 6, still has a large scar on his neck, but is otherwise OK.
The entire family is still in therapy.
Please remember to keep your children properly restrained for their age, size, and maturity level. And please, please, PLEASE do not use a lap-only seatbelt for anything other than installing a harnessed car seat.
If the 3-year-old’s car seat had been installed with the lap-only belt, the 8-year-old probably would’ve been fine sitting with just a lap/shoulder belt. The 5-year-old would have been fine if he was in a booster seat, since it would have made his seatbelt fit properly (though a harnessed seat like the one Big Brother uses would have been even better). The 3-year-old was lucky he didn’t suffer any internal bleeding from the chest clip, and his injuries would probably have been less severe if he had been rear-facing.
Again….PLEASE don’t put your kids (or adults!) in a lap-only belt. And if they’re not mature enough to sit properly in a booster, keep them harnessed!
To learn more about keeping kids safe in the car, visit my car seat info page or post specific questions in the comment section below.