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Feds: Tweens’ child injuries could be prevented with seat belts

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The federal Department of Transportation has initiated its first-ever seat belt campaign targeted at “tween” passengers — those between the ages of 8 and 14. This initiative, designed to prevent New York child injuries, is just the latest in a string of traffic safety programs that are targeted toward kids. Experts say that this is a particularly important campaign because younger teens — those in the 13- to 14-year-old age range — are far more likely to suffer serious child injuries in car crashes as compared to both their older and younger counterparts. This higher injury rate is not dependent on the tween’s seating position in the vehicle.

In many instances, parents do not enforce home seat belt rules if they are transporting children between school and extracurricular activities or running short errands. Parents may also get worn down from daily discipline, reasoning that seat belt usage is not a topic that requires another argument. That is not the case, according to transportation specialists, who assert that parents can prevent a variety of child injuries by simply insisting on buckling up.

Tweens tend to test boundaries in an attempt to create their own identities. Although this can lead to creative and personal growth, testing seat belt and other safety boundaries can lead to negative consequences. Tweens may not understand that other drivers are not always responsible or trust worthy, and that other people’s actions could lead to injury or even death. The importance of seat belts cannot be overstated when it comes to this vulnerable population.

Still, no matter whether a car accident victim is wearing a seat belt, the at-fault party should be held responsible for his or her negligence. Adults can model appropriate driving and seat belt behavior for their tweens and other children, providing them with the knowledge they need to make better transportation decisions as they mature. No one should have to suffer through experiencing or witnessing a serious child injury simply because of seat belt oversight.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “U.S. DOT Launches First-Ever National Tween Seat Belt Advertising Campaign,” accessed July 21, 2015

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