String of Recent Car Crashes Injures 13 Children, 3 Fatal
Cook Children's Trauma Department Urges Parents To Properly Secure Their Children
Since April 1, 13 children have been admitted to Cook Children’s with serious injuries following car wrecks. Of the 13, nine have gone to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and three have died.
“We usually expect an increase in motor vehicle crashes during the summer, but we are seeing them earlier this year for some reason,” said Sharon Evans, Trauma Injury Prevention Outreach coordinator at Cook Children’s. “The crashes are devastating and leave a lasting impact on the kids and their families forever.”
Following the accidents, the Trauma department at Cook Children’s wants to get out the message to parents: Properly secure your children in the car.
Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. Many of those deaths could be prevented if parents took the extra time to make sure their children were properly restrained.
Evans says it’s extremely frustrating because she has seen wrecks where one child who was properly restrained lives and the other child not buckled in dies.
“These accidents are totally preventable. I don’t think people think it can happen to them,” Evans said. “But it can happen to anyone. It just breaks my heart because these are deaths that shouldn’t occur if people would just place their kid in the proper car seat and buckle them up with a seat belt."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.
“If your child is injured in a car accident, there are no do-overs,” Evans said. “It’s important to keep your children rear-facing as long as possible to keep them protected and to reduce the risk of injury.”
Statistics show this is especially a problem for Hispanics in the community. In the past three years, ninety percent of Cook Children’s patients who were ejected from a vehicle were Hispanic.
“I think a lot of it has to do with our culture,” said Magdalena Santillan, Trauma Injury Prevention specialist at Cook Children’s. “These are people who love their kids and they want to hold their baby. Many people don’t want to hear their baby cry and so it’s easier to hold their baby in the car. They are showing love, but the consequences are too high. This can be a deadly mistake.”
Texas law states that “all children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4’9”, are required to be in the appropriate child safety seat system wherever they ride in a passenger vehicle. The safety seat MUST be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
That means that when a child reaches his or her eighth birthday – no matter their height, it is legal for the child to use only the adult safety belt in the passenger vehicle.
But the Texas Department of Public Safety states on its website that best safety practice is: “if the child is not yet 4’9”, they are better protected if they continue to use the appropriate child safety seat system until they can fit properly in the adult safety belt.”
“From a safety standpoint, I encourage parents to follow the best safety practice guidelines,” Evans said. “Graduating to a seat belt too early does keep children in car if they crash, but when the seat belt doesn’t fit properly it can cause serious injuries. That is something else we are seeing right now at Cook Children’s – children in neck braces because they were in seat belts too young and too early.”
Call 682-885-2634 to set up a FREE car seat checkup to ensure your seat is properly installed.