OGDEN -- A new study finds an alarming percentage of parents are not buckling up their kids.
The study, released by Safe Kids Worldwide, reveals that one in four parents admit to having driven without their child buckled up in a car or booster seat. More affluent parents, parents with higher levels of education and young parents were the worst offenders. Men were also more willing than women to bend the seat belt rules.
"The number of children dying in car crashes has declined by 58 percent since 1987 but this research shows that the trend toward buckling up kids on every ride could be heading in the wrong direction," said Jann Fawcett, Safe Kids Weber-Morgan Coalition Coordinator. "It only takes on time to be riding in a vehicle without buckling up for a life to be changed forever."
The study, entitled, "Buckle up: Every Ride, Every Time," was funded as part of a $2 million grant from General Motors Foundation.
Car crashes are a leading cause of death to children. In 2011, Safe Kids Worldwide reported 679 children ages 12 and under died in car wrecks. A third of those children were riding without a child safety seat or seat belt that could have saved their lives. Older children are also more often unrestrained in fatal car crashes compared to younger children.
"As kids grow up it can be easy to forget the importance of taking time to buckle up, especially on a quick or overnight trip," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Sustainability and Global Regulatory Affairs. "Unfortunately, exceptions can lead to tragedies. The research findings underscore the importance of remaining vigilant about buckling up throughout a child's lifetime. There is no reason important enough to take the risk."
The study found 21 percent of parents admitting it was acceptable to drive with their child unrestrained if they aren't driving far. However, 60 percent of crashes involving children occur 10 minutes or less from home. In addition, 16 percent of parents also feel it's acceptable to allow children to ride unrestrained on overnight trips. However, this is the time period when children are most likely to be injured in a crash.
Twenty-three percent of younger parents ages 18 to 29 said it would be OK to ride with a child unrestrained when traveling overnight, compared to 13 percent of older parents.
The study also reported teenagers as having the lowest rate of seat belt use of all age groups and highlights that when parents make exceptions, it send a powerful message to kids that it's not important to buckle up on every ride. As kids get older, they too become lackadaisical about buckling up.
As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, the Safe Kids Weber-Morgan Coalition will have a car seat checkpoint Thursday, Sept. 19 at John Watson Chevrolet, 3535 Wall Ave. from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Certified child passenger safety technicians will be on hand to check car seats for proper installation and advise parents and caregivers how to choose the right car seat and install them properly in their vehicles. The event is free to the public.