Stories about: car safety

Why Don’t We Treat Gun Safety Like Car Safety?

McCarthyClaire_201108_047Here’s a question for you: Which causes more deaths, motor vehicle traffic accidents or firearms?

I asked a bunch of people that question, including a bunch of doctors, and everyone said that motor vehicles did, by a lot.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013, 33,804 people died from motor vehicle traffic accidents — and 33, 636 died from firearms.

They kill the same number of people.

I was really surprised by this statistic — mostly because of how we differently we think about safety with each.

With cars, we seem to just accept as a society that they are dangerous — and that we should make laws and rules to try to limit injuries. Along with licensing requirements that universally require that you show you know both the laws and how to drive, we have all sorts of rules of the road, we require insurance, regular inspections — not to mention car seats and seat belts.

It’s different with guns.

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5 things to know about car safety at all ages

Lois Lee, MD, MPH
Lois Lee, MD, MPH

Every few months a news story serves as a tragic reminder. Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for school-age children to young adults, says Dr. Lois Lee, attending physician, emergency department, at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Lee, who recently published a study about motor vehicle crash fatalities, is all too familiar with what can happen when parents and family members relax car safety practices. She offers pointers for parents to keep kids safe at all ages.

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Should my child still be using a booster seat?

Flickr/ Neeta Lind

Right around the time he turned 7, Jameson Mannix started dreading the ride to school. That was the age he realized he was the only boy in his class still using a booster seat. When he complained, his mother, Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Division of Emergency Medicine, explained that without a booster seat the seat belt wouldn’t fit him correctly because his seat belt rested on his throat and stomach instead of lying across his hips and chest. In the event of a crash, she told him, the belt could damage his intestines and spine, which is very dangerous.

But Jameson, like most kids his age, was far more concerned with “fitting in” than a well-fitting seatbelt.

“No matter how much we discussed it, Jameson kept going back to the fact that he was the only one in his class that had to use a booster seat,” Mannix remembers. “I told him that in Massachusetts there was a law requiring kids under 8 years old or 4 feet, 9 inches to use a booster seat, which meant he technically HAD to use one. That resonated with him a little, but he still fought it almost every morning.”

To help drive home the point, Mannix began researching data on the effectiveness of booster seats and booster seat laws on deaths and injuries related to car accidents, in hopes of strengthening her case for Jameson that booster seat laws for children his age existed for a reason. As she scanned the available data she found plenty of studies linking booster seats to decreased fatalities and injuries, but noticed that laws stating how old or tall children needed to be before they could legally travel without a booster changed from state to state.

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Keeping infants safe during travel

car seatRecent reports indicate that some infants have lower blood oxygen levels when placed in car seats. Parents hearing this information might worry about the safety of car seats. However, all medical experts agree that car seats are essential for preventing death or injury to newborns and infants during motor vehicle travel. We strongly believe that the risk of injury from motor vehicle accidents outweighs the risk from brief episodes of lower blood oxygen levels.

The following are some steps parents can take to minimize their infant’s risks while using their car seats:

  1. Car seats should only be used to transport children, not as a replacement for a crib or bassinet.
  2. Remove the infant from the car seat if he/she becomes pale, blue or has trouble breathing and call for medical assistance.
  3. Stop intermittently during long trips to remove the infant from the car seat.
  4. Try to limit the time a newborn infant spends in the car seat to one hour.
  5. Have a second adult in the car observe the newborn infant during travel.

Michele DeGrazia, PhD, NNP-BC, is a neonatal nurse practitioner and nurse scientist. Lawrence Rhein, MD, is the director of the Center for Healthy Infant Lung Development.

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