Child Passenger Injuries On The Rise

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There has been a growing awareness of public safety concerns in Chicago, and other surrounding Illinois cities concerning child safety seats and the laws and regulations associated with their use. Although safe driving campaigns and heightened enforcement of child passenger regulations have led to increased use of child restraint seats, surprisingly, so have the occurrence of child car seat related injuries. This can be attributed to factors such as car seats that may be improperly used, or are unsuitable for a child’s particular age or weight, as well as in cases of defective or faulty child restraint devices. The Chicago injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. urge all parents to not only restrain their child passengers, but also ensure that such children are restrained properly.

As stated in the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act:
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children of every age from 4 to 14. The General Assembly further finds that the safety of the motoring public is seriously threatened as indicated by the significant number of traffic accidents annually caused, directly or indirectly, by driver distraction or other impairment of driving ability induced by the movement or actions of the unrestrained passengers under the age of 8 years.

The laws in Illinois regarding child passengers can be confusing. For example, parents often inappropriately interpret the 8 years or 40 pound standard of the Illinois Child Protection Act. The 40 pound requirement applies to booster seat usage in circumstances involving transport of a child that is under the age of 8, but that weighs over 40 pounds. The confusion of this requirement lies in its dependency on the type of seat belts available in a particular motor vehicle. If your vehicle is equipped with BOTH a lap belt and shoulder belt, then a booster seat MUST be used to secure a child under the age of 8 years. However, if there are NO available positions in the vehicle which have a combination lap and shoulder belt, then the child may be transported without a booster seat, but only in rear seat position with proper use of the vehicle lap belt.

The personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer recognize that the current law in Illinois concerning child restraint systems may not offer the most effective means of protection for children over 40 pounds who travel in vehicles with combination lap and shoulder belts located only in door seat positions. This is because, it has long been known that the safest location for a child passenger during a motor vehicle accident is in the center seat position. The center seat position affords protection particularly from rear, frontal and side-impact collisions, given its distance from the point of impact. Despite the known safety benefits of placing a child in a center seat position, current Illinois law maintains the requirement that a child passenger over the age of 40 pounds who is traveling in a vehicle equipped with ANY combination lap and shoulder belts MUST use the combination belt position, even if it is located in a door position.
For more information on child restraint systems, see our post:
Child Restraint Systems: The Right Seat, The Right Size, The Right Use
If your child was injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident while traveling on a Chicago roadway, it is important that you discuss your legal rights with a licensed Illinois injury or wrongful death attorney. The team of dedicated and experienced Chicago lawyers at Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. will work aggressively to ensure that you receive the compensation that you and your family deserve. Contact us today at (773) 516-4100 for a FREE comprehensive evaluation, or online at www.zneimerlaw.com.