Study Shows Disparity Between Ethnicity and Child Safety Restraint Use

By Joel Arellano | December 20, 2011
A recent study about child restraint use in cars comes to some startling conclusions. Not only are far too many children going unrestrained in cars, there's a wide disparity between ethnicities as well. The study, titled “Are There Racial/Ethnic Disparities In the Use of Restraints and Outcomes in Children Following Motor Vehicle Crashes," was conducted by Dr. Rebecca Stark and associates after analyzing injury data from crashes. In their study, which was released at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the research team examined car accidents involving children under 16 years old, looking at the child's ethnicity/race, whether he or she was restrained at the time of the accident, and the extent of their injuries (where they hospitalized). The researchers drew their data from the National Trauma Database with the study covering almost 40,000 children involved in accidents between 2002 through 2006. The study showed that less than half, or nearly 48 percent, of the children were restrained at the time of the accident. Asian children were buckled in most often at 59.3 percent followed by whites at nearly 49 percent. Native American children were restrained the least at 36.8 percent. Blacks and Hispanic children were buckled in around 39 percent of the time. Dr. Steven Lee, who was involved in the study, points out the researchers did not know what kind of child protective equipment (e.g., seatbelt, child safety seat, etc.) was in use at the time of the accident or if it was appropriately set to protect the child. To Marilyn J. Bull, M.D., former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention and co-medical director of the Automotive Safety Program at Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University Health, the study is a wakeup call. “Use of restraints," she says, "is important in addressing the educational, cultural and resource needs of this hard-to-reach community."'s Take: Child safety is always important when in involves any vehicle. We strongly urge all parents and caretakers to learn about their car safety features, how to use them, and the local laws in their area. Many public organizations like firefighters and the police have programs on the proper use of child safety seats, and reputable car dealerships will be more than happy to teach new drivers their use in new vehicles as well. Source: Consumer Reports