This month SafeKids Oregon, an organization that regular readers know I have long supported and been associated with, is launching an important public education initiative. “Buckle Up: Every Ride, Every Time” aims to eliminate some of the myths surrounding kids and seat belt use.
The report begins by acknowledging that the United States has “made tremendous progress in child passenger safety over the last 30 years.” It notes that “the number of children dying in car crashes has declined 58 percent since 1987.” Despite this progress, however, a study commissioned by SafeKids Worldwide found that “one in four respondents admitted to having driven without their child buckled up in a car seat or booster seat.”
Even more surprising were the study’s findings related to age, income and education. Simply put, the data show many popular preconceptions to be myths. According to SafeKids, affluent parents (defined as those with a household income of $100,000 or more) were more than twice as likely to “say it is acceptable to leave their child unrestrained if they are not driving a far distance” compared to parents making less than $35,000 per year. This belief is especially worrying since about 60 percent of car accidents take place within 10 minutes of home.
In a similar vein, “parents with graduate degrees are twice as likely to say it is acceptable to drive without buckling up their children, compared to parents with a high school education, particularly when they are in a rush (20 percent compared to 10 percent)” even though, as we all know, people in a rush are rarely as attentive as they are when not hurried.
It is useful to be reminded that education and income do not confer some special status on parents – that everyone is capable of making bad decisions and, as such, needs to be reminded of the importance of acting safely every day, not just when doing so is convenient. As an Oregon car crash and child injury attorney I see too many cases where negligence, and sometimes irreversible injuries, are the result of smart and well-intentioned people failing to do what they know to be the right thing. As SafeKids Oregon reminds us: safety is important, and it isn’t difficult, but it requires attention and effort, every day, every trip, every time.
SafeKids Oregon: Buckle Up: Every Ride, Every Time