Too many young children are not riding in age-appropriate child restraints, according to a AAA Northeast analysis of Massachusetts crash data.
To highlight National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 20 – 26), AAA Northeast analyzed MassDOT crash data and found that an alarming number of children were involved in crashes while riding without child restraints. In 2019, one third of 5-year-olds and more than half of 6 to 7-year-olds wore only seat belts or, in some cases, were unrestrained entirely:
|% of children involved in crashes that were riding outside a child restraint||11%||11%||11%||15%||21%||33%||45%||61%|
Currently, Massachusetts law requires children to ride in a child restraint until age 8 or until they are taller than 57 inches.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a:
- Rear-facing car seat as long as possible (at least until age 2), followed by a
- Forward-facing car seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer, followed by a
- Booster seat until they are 57 inches tall
“Riding in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat instead of an ill-fitting seatbelt can make the difference between a minor injury and a severe injury for a young child,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public & Legislative Affairs for AAA Northeast. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children, and more than 1200 children under 8 years old were injured in crashes on Massachusetts roads in 2019.
On a positive note, the percentage of 5-7 year-olds riding in child restraints has risen in recent years, but child restraint usage for 0-2 year-olds has barely budged. With that in mind, AAA Northeast is working to pass Senate Bill 1411/House Bill 3575, which would require children under two to ride rear-facing.
“Our top priority is keeping children safe and ensuring they’re properly restrained,” Maguire said.