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Study highlights the importance of child seat belt laws

Kentucky law requires the operators of motor vehicles to ensure that all child passengers are properly secured by seat belts or appropriate restraints or buckled into approved child safety seats, but the data suggests that these laws are routinely ignored. The Kentucky State Police says that only 67 percent of the state's motorists regularly fasten their seat belts, and research from Harvard University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center indicates that this is a pervasive problem in southern states.

The researchers studied fatal car accidents involving children using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they found that one in five of the 2,885 children under the age of 15 killed on the nation's roads between 2010 and 2014 were not properly restrained or were not restrained at all. The roads of Southern states were especially hazardous for children during the period studied, and Mississippi was found to have the deadliest roads of all when population sizes were taken into account.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, concluded that stricter seat belt laws alone are not enough to protect child passengers. The researchers discovered that consistent and rigorous enforcement of traffic safety laws increases compliance and lowers child mortality rates. The study also revealed that most fatal accidents involving children during the period examined occurred at speeds of between 45 and 60 mph and on rural roads.

Regardless of age, when people are killed in car accidents, their family members often have to deal with financial issues such as funeral expenses and loss of contributions in addition to their grief. When these accidents are caused by negligent drivers, an attorney might file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the survivors seeking appropriate compensation from the at-fault motorist for their losses.

Source: The Kentucky State Police, "Occupant Protection-Seatbelt Safety", accessed on June 6, 2017

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