A recent report indicated that child restraint laws (laws that address how a child is to be restrained while riding as a passenger in a vehicle) are outdated and fail to consider newer research and medical experts’ guidelines. Most alarming is the fact that, in the United States, about 2,000 children die each year due to vehicular accidents. This is more than double the number of other “comparably wealthy” nations.
The findings showed that states such as Arizona, Michigan, and South Dakota only addressed children up to age four. This is in stark contrast to the American Association of Pediatrics recommendation that children should be restrained with child seats until between ages 8 and 12, depending on the height of the child.
Even more alarming are certain exemptions that some states give to their child restraint laws. For instance, 16 states have exemptions for vehicles that are carrying more children than their vehicle space can handle, as long as restraint devices were used for as many children as possible. This exemption seems to be wholly without justification. If the purpose of the law is to provide protection for child passengers, it makes no sense to allow an exemption for vehicles that are carrying too many children for there to be any assurance of safety. If anything there should be a law prohibiting a vehicle from carrying more children than the vehicle can adequately keep safe. Accidents and injuries will inevitably happen, but there needs to be a review of these laws so that the United States can at least get the fatality rate down to levels comparable to other developed nations.