Safety Seats More Effective in Preventing Death than Seat Belts

June 8, 2006

Young children stand a better chance of avoiding death in a serious car crash if they’re secured in a car seat rather than buckled in a seat belt, according to a new study.

Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that children between the ages of 2 and 6 were 28 percent less likely to be killed in a crash if they were sitting in the back in either a car seat or booster seat instead of in a seat belt.

Even in cases where the child seat was not attached to the vehicle’s seat or the child wasn’t wearing the seat’s harness, the risk of death was reduced by 21 percent, the study found.

“Parents should feel confident that using an age-appropriate restraint in the rear seat for their child is the best thing they can do to minimize their child’s risk of both injury and death in the event of a crash,” said Dr. Dennis Durbin, the study’s author and a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Philadelphia hospital.

The study, published in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, followed questions raised in July 2005 by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, the authors of “Freakonomics,” about the effectiveness of child safety seats versus buckling up children in seat belts.

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