Correct seat belt use saves children's lives

August 6, 2014
Correct seat belt use saves children's lives
Credit: Marianne Skjerven-Martinsen, NIPH

9 out of 10 children are seriously or fatally injured in traffic accidents because they are incorrectly restrained or because of loose objects in cars. Correct use of safety equipment will save more lives, according to a new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

Why are some seriously or fatally injured in traffic accidents while other children in the same vehicle walk away without physical injury? This is one of the main questions Dr Marianne Skjerven-Martinsen at the NIPH studied as part of her doctoral dissertation.

The study is part of the research project 'Barn i bil' (Eng: Children in cars), a collaboration between the NIPH and Oslo University Hospital. As part of the project, a roadside study of normal traffic on Norwegian high-speed roads also took place which showed that every third child was incorrectly restrained.

Correct Seat Belt Use is Crucial

By investigating traffic accidents in Norway, Skjerven-Martinsen and her colleagues documented that incorrect restraint and loose objects in cars play a significant role in the number of deaths and injuries among children.

The results show that:

  • Accidents where children are seriously injured mainly occur on high speed roads, in weekend traffic and most often follow frontal collisions on roads without crash barriers between carriageways.
  • More than 9 out of 10 children who were seriously or fatally injured in were incorrectly restrained or were hit by loose objects in the car.
  • The most common error is that the seatbelt is misplaced, with the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back, or the lap belt is placed too high on the abdomen.
  • Loose objects also cause damage to passengers, often indirectly when heavy luggage shifts, displacing the rear seat where the child is sitting.
  • Correctly secured children have a low risk of injury, even in a heavy collision.

Children over 4 years are injured most frequently and the most common injuries are to the head, face, chest and abdomen. For younger children, the most common errors are loose or misplaced straps.

Learn from Experience

"We see that adults want to protect their children but they may lack knowledge of what can happen if the equipment is not used properly. The aim of this study was to evaluate the incorrect usage of child restraint in the vehicle, related to the child's height, age and type of equipment. In this way, we can give advice to parents, authorities and particularly the motor industry," says Skjerven-Martinsen.

In her thesis, she also described how children of different ages should be secured to prevent serious injury in . The findings provide a scientific basis for targeted prevention.

About the 'Barn i Bil' Study

The research project is a comprehensive study conducted by the Department of Forensic Pathology at the NIPH in collaboration with Oslo University Hospital.

From 2007 to 2009, selected collisions were analysed but from 2009 to 2013 this was expanded to include all serious collisions so that the number of accidents and injured children could be quantified. A total of 115 cars that collided and 185 children were examined. The typical injury mechanisms were identified by comparing the findings of technical examinations of the cars with the children's injuries and the sequence of events inside each car was reconstructed. A roadside study of normal traffic on Norwegian roads was also carried out. It was found that over one in three children were incorrectly restrained due to improper use of safety equipment. In addition, a quarter of the children were exposed to heavy, unsecured items. The percentage of incorrectly restrained children was highest in the 4-7 year age group.

Explore further: Every third child incorrectly restrained in cars, says European study

Related Stories

Every third child incorrectly restrained in cars, says European study

October 8, 2012
Car accidents are the main cause of serious injury and death among children in Norway. A new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health shows that 37 per cent of all children under 16 years are incorrectly restrained ...

Many children affected by posttraumatic stress disorder after traffic accidents

May 27, 2014
Nearly every third child in Sweden who is injured in traffic is subsequently affected by posttraumatic stress disorder. Every fifth child is still suffering from mental and psychosocial problems one year after the accident. ...

Study: Standardized child booster seat laws would save lives

October 22, 2012
State laws that mandate car booster seat use for children at least until age 8 are associated with fewer motor vehicle-related fatalities and severe injuries, and should be standardized throughout the U.S. to optimally protect ...

Hot cars can quickly prove deadly for kids

August 5, 2014
(HealthDay)—Before you decide it's safe to make a quick dash into the pharmacy while your toddler is asleep in a car seat during the hot months of summer, consider this: More than 600 children in the United States have ...

Buckle up the right way: Motor vehicle child safety restraints

June 6, 2013
Supplemental child restraints should be used by all children through age 8. When appropriate child safety restraint systems—based on a child's age and weight—are in use during motor vehicle crashes, the rates of mortality ...

Keep your kids properly secured while traveling

September 26, 2011
Child Passenger Safety Week is celebrated every year to remind parents and other caregivers of the need to keep children of all ages properly restrained in a seat that meets their weight and height requirements.

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Aug 06, 2014
Under 'incorrectly restrained', does this include 'not wearing any harness or belt' ??

It is galling to see drivers juggling cigarette and/or cell-phone while one or more kiddies bounce around in car, stand on seat, lean out of window etc etc...

Assuredly lethal are passengers with kiddy on lap and seat-belt over both; Even the belt-tensioner firing would probably garrote the child. Air-bag deployment could well kill both, the child's skull becoming a 'cannon ball'.

If you challenge these idiots, you often find they haven't vaccinated their kids for fear of mercury, fluoride etc etc...

But, 'They Know What's Best For Their Family'.

D'uh...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.