Two disturbing reports out this week point out the dangers faced by children while riding in cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that more than a third of children under age 13 who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2011 were not in car seats or wearing seat belts.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said that during that same year, 20% of fatalities of children under age 15 -- 226 deaths -- were a result of drunk driving crashes. It’s probably a good guess that in many of these accidents, the adult driver was too inebriated to remember to buckle up young children safely.
“Drunk driving with a child passenger is a form of child abuse and no child should ever be put in that kind of danger, especially by those entrusted to keep them safe,” said Jan Withers, MADD national president.
Car crashes remain a leading cause of death for children.
"Regardless of the size of the vehicle, the age of the child or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained in a car seat, booster or seat belt," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Car seats, when correctly installed and used, provide proven life-saving and injury-reducing benefits for child passengers."
The agency said that on average, almost two children under age 13 were killed and 338 were injured daily while riding in cars.
Drivers don’t seem to understand the importance of child restraints in big vehicles. For example, 24% of the fatalities were of children riding in passenger cars. That rose to 40% for vans, 43% for pickup trucks and 55% for sport utility vehicles.