It's National Child Passenger Safety Week!

Child injury and death from car collisions are unfortunately all too common, but the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is part of a campaign to help raise awareness as to how parents can help reduce the risk of injury or death to their kids while traveling in the car. The week of September 17th through the 23rd is National Child Passenger Safety Week, and aims to shed light on the importance of using proper restraints for kids when traveling in a vehicle. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, automobile accidents are the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children ages 1-13. The National Security Council reports that in 2015 alone, 1,346 children under the age of 15 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, which is an average of more than 3 kids per day. While these statistics are scary, luckily, there are ways parents can help to reduce the likelihood of their child being injured or killed in a car crash. The simplest way to avoid child car accident injuries is by using the proper restraints. In 2012 alone, the lives of 284 kids, ages 5 and under, were saved due to restraint use, according to Safe Kids. Using car seats, seat belts, and booster seats can reduce the risk of injury or death by up to 50%. Safe Kids also gives the following tips on to how to keep young passengers safe while traveling.

Michigan Child Car Crash Lawyer

Child Car Seat Safety Tips

  • The back seat is the best. It is the safest place to ride for all children under the age of 13. Not all cars allow for a car seat in every place that has a seat belt. Check your car owner manual to see where you can put a car seat.
  • Be wary of toys in the car. Choose toys that are soft and will not hurt your child in a crash. Secure any loose objects in the car.
  • Wear your seat belt. We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.

Safe Kids recommends that children need to be riding in some sort of restrained device until the age of 13. According to the OHSP, children who are under the height of 4 feet and 9 inches cannot fit comfortably in a seat belt, making them more likely to tuck it behind their back or under their arm, thereby reducing its effectiveness. Seat belts are designed to fit across the hips and shoulders, which are the strongest part of the body. Booster seats lift up smaller children to allow the seat belt to fit properly. According to the OHSP, less than half of children aged 4-7 in the state of Michigan are using booster seats. As kids get older, the use of restraints goes down, even though booster seats are cheaper and easier to use than car seats. Older children are at risk too, as kids over the age of 14 are more likely to not use a seat belt at all. 

Kid Car Crash Lawyer

Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan branch of the OHSP, says that the goal is not to scare parents, but to make them aware of the risks that come with not restraining child passengers properly. They also want to provide encouragement by reinforcing how useful car seats and booster seats are when it comes to reducing the number of child injuries and deaths from car accidents. Prince also said that the timing of the campaign is intentional. With school starting, kids are being driven back and forth not only to school, but to sports practices and other activities. The OHSP wants to make sure that parents are ensuring their kids are safe during travel times.

While no parent can guarantee that their child won’t be involved in an automobile accident, they can guarantee that their child is properly restrained. For younger children, it's as simple as making sure they are using car seats and booster seats until they are big enough for seat belts to fit properly. For older children, it's important for parents to set a good example and make sure they are wearing their seat belt so that even when they are not travelling with you, teenagers will remember to wear one. In making child car safety a priority, parents are responsibly helping keep their children as safe as possible in the event of a motor vehicle accident.


Using the proper restraints can reduce the risk of death or injury to children, in the event of a car accident. If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of automobile accident cases, especially those involving children. Our car accident lawyers understand that while car crashes can be confusing enough for adults, they can especially take a toll on children. 

Are Rear-Facing Car Seats Safe for Infants?

Flint Car Accident Lawyer

On May 16th, 2017, a vehicle was rear-ended on East Stewart Avenue in Flint, Michigan. As reported by MLive, in the vehicle was an 8 month year old infant, who sadly died after suffering critical injuries in the accident. Micah Kent, the young infant, was reportedly in critical condition and was rushed to the Hurley Medical Center, however, the injuries he sustained proved fatal. The vehicle carrying the baby was a 1997 Mercury Sable, and it had been hit from behind by a man driving a 2002 Saturn SL2. Police have reported that they believe the driver was under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the crash. It was not stated how the baby was riding in the vehicle or if a car seat was used.

Stories like this are heartbreaking. Infants are highly susceptible to injuries from car crashes because their spines are still developing and their heads are still large relative to their bodies. A baby’s neck and spine are not strong enough to sustain the force of a car accident without the proper protection of a car seat. Child car safety experts tell parents to always make sure a car seat is rear-facing for infants under the age of two. That is, the car seat is facing the backside of the vehicle.

The Issue With Rear-Facing Car Seats

Child Car Safety Lawyer

Child car safety experts tell parents to face car seats toward the back of the vehicle because an impact to the front of the car is the most common type of car crash in America. Per The Washington Post, of the infants under the age of one killed in collisions between 2005 and 2009, one third were involved in frontal or offset crashes while only 15% were killed in rear-end crashes. Facing a car seat to the back of the vehicle can keep the baby’s neck and spine straight while the car seat eliminates whiplash from the crash.

Again however, this safety measure is intended to protect babies from crashes to the front of the vehicle. As evidenced from the tragic story above, babies can face severe risks from rear-end collisions as well. The issue is that car seat manufacturers tend to read statistics like the ones given by The Washington Post and focus on creating safety measures for frontal crashes because they are the most common. As a result, they overlook the risks associated with infants in rear-end collisions. 

Flint Car Collision

The Washington Post also outlined an experiment and study published by the Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention. The experiment depicted the impact of a rear-end collision with a car moving 30 mph carrying an infant-sized dummy sitting in a rear-facing car seat. The experiment showed the car seat lurching toward the back of the car and the dummy’s head colliding hard with the back seat. The car seat researchers who conducted the experiment recognized that a car colliding with another vehicle in reverse at 30 mph is unlikely, but they were nonetheless surprised by the force of impact absorbed by the infant dummy’s head. The child car safety experts, however, were more concerned that their findings would scare parents into thinking rear-facing car seats were not the safest option. They made sure to specify that babies should remain in rear-facing style. The experts intentions for the study were not to show that babies are unsafe facing the back of vehicles, but rather that rear-facing car seats could be made safer.

No Car Seat is Crash Proof, But Rear-Facing Car Seats Are The Best Option

Rear-facing car seats, as opposed to forward-facing, are the best option for infants up to the age of two. As stated above, frontal or offset crashes are the most common type of crash. Rear-facing car seats have been designed to mitigate the force of these frontal crashes and stop any whiplash from occurring. Additionally, the most common type of rear-end crash occurs when the car is moving between 5-10 mph. Although whiplash can still be felt at these speeds, it is more important to focus on reducing the impact of frontal crash that could occur at 30 mph or faster. It is even mandated in three states that infants are remain rear-facing until they reach the age of two. 12 states require babies to sit in rear-facing seats until they are at least one. To ensure an infants rear-facing seat is as safe as possible, parents should secure the car seat through their vehicle's seat belt or L.A.T.C.H. system. Generally, a car seat is secure if it cannot be moved more than one inch in all directions.

Below are more car safety tips provided by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Car Safety Tips for Infants

Car Seat Safety
  • Your child should be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two.
  • Always put your infant’s rear-facing car seat in the back seat of a car. A baby sitting in the front passenger seat of a car could be fatally injured by the blunt force of an air bag.
  • Always have snug safety harnesses at or below your baby’s shoulders. Make sure there is no room to pinch a fold in the harnesses.
  • Never place a blanket between your child and the harnesses, and do not dress your baby in bulky clothing that could lessen the snugness of the safety straps. Instead, place a blanket over the harnesses and child. 
  • Lastly, remember that your child has outgrown his or her’s rear-facing seat if his or her head is touching the top of the car seat. There should be at least one inch between the top of their head and the top of the car seat.

So, the question remains: are rear-facing car seats safe for Infants. The easiest answer is that they are the better of two evils. The rear-facing car seat is the best option for children under two years of age. However, they do not completely ensure an infant's safety, especially from rear-end accidents, but they are safer against the more common frontal car accidents. Hopefully however, the focus for the future of child car safety is not on deciding which type of crash deserves the most attention, but rather, how to make a car seat that can be safe in all car accident types. 


The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC is a Birmingham, Michigan personal injury firm. Our firm handles personal injury lawsuits throughout the state. Call 844.464.3476 today to speak to an experienced injury attorney today. We offer free consultations and honest and fair legal representation.