Many of us have or have had at some point in our lives the responsibility of caring for a young child. To ensure we fulfill this incredible responsibility, we take a great many precautions every day to provide for the safety and well- being of our most prized loved one. One of these precautions is the use of child safety seats prior to traveling in a vehicle.
The Most Nerve Wracking Drive: From The Hospital
I remember the first day I took my baby home from the hospital. While it was quite a few years ago, it seems like only yesterday. I can recall asking the nurse to come outside and make sure I installed the car seat properly. To that point in my life, the most pressure I ever felt was driving city streets with a two day old baby in my car!
In light of that recollection, it is unbelievable how frequently parents of small children will neglect to use a child safety seat- instead letting their small child ride in a passenger seat with only a standard seat belt to provide restraint. Not only is this incredibly foolish and dangerous, it is against the law.
All Children Required To Use Safety Seats In TN
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, children and their safety when traveling in vehicles has been a priority of the Volunteer state for more than thirty years. Tennessee prides itself for being the first state in the nation to create a law requiring the use of safety seats for all child passengers. Since then, Tennessee has continued to enforce this law with intense scrutiny, aiming to protect children from injuries due to the neglect of their parents.
T.C.A. 55-9-602 states that;
- Children under 1 year of age of weighing 20 pounds or less must be safely secured in a child safety seat when traveling in a vehicle. Further, the seat must be in a rear facing position in the rear seat, if possible, and must meet all federal vehicle safety standards.
- Children ages 1 to 3 and weighing more than 20 pounds must be in a child safety seat in the rear seat in a front seated position and must meet all federal vehicle safety standards.
- Children ages 4-8, and less than four feet nine inches tall must be safely secured in a belt-positioning booster seat device, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat.
- Children ages 9-12 or any child through twelve 12 years old measuring four feet nine inches tall or more must be secured in a seat belt system.
- Children age 13-15 must be secured by using a passenger seat belt restraint device meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards.
- The driver of the car is fully responsible for ensuring that children under the age of 16 are properly restrained and may be charged and fined $50.00 for violating this law.
I recognize is harsh to call parents neglectful for failing to comply with the above law. However, there can be no excuse for this failing, whether it be due to time constraints, laziness or forgetfulness.
This is especially so when you consider the statistics. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, it has been reported that, across the nation, nearly 1.5 million children are involved as passengers in car accidents every year. These accidents are the number one cause of fatalities among children from the ages of 2-14.
Safety Car Seats Work But Only When Used Properly
By contrast, studies have shown that child safety seats do work. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states one of its key issues is the use of car seats and how when used properly the risk of injury to a child in the case of an accident is decreased exponentially.
When children are placed in them, there is far less chance they will suffer from serious injury in the event of an automobile accident. In light of this, there can be no excuse. Put your child in a safety seat- their health depends on it, and they are counting on you.