The best way to raise a child may be a matter of opinion, but the safest way to transport them is much less subjective. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends car seats and boosters for children from birth to between 8 and 11 years old, depending on the child's size.
Nearly half of car-seat-aged kids in America are not correctly secured in the safety devices, though—and that’s a fact.
But there may be a new-age solution to help avoid future incidents of car seat misuse.
An app called “Safety In Seconds” has been found to leave a helpful and lasting impression on parents and caretakers. Interaction with the application led to “significant improvements” in knowledge and use of a range of car seats and other vehicular safety tips, according to a new Johns Hopkins University study.
Specifically, the 742 parents who participated were better able to identify the appropriate type of car seat for their child’s age and weight. And after six months, most were able to retain what they’d learned.
Use of the app also helped develop other important safety habits, such as having car seats inspected by a trained technician; keeping children riding in the backseat for the recommended period of time; and having children buckled up at all.
Indeed, the informative app was developed after it came to light that 11.6% of children aged 4-7 were not being strapped into any safety device—including a seatbelt. About 25% were only using seatbelts, according to a 2015 NHTSA survey. And just 44.5% were being transported in a booster seat—the official NHTSA recommendation for children in that age range. Of those being boosted, only 37.4% were properly secured, the government’s survey found.
The intention behind car seat misuse may not be malicious, but the results can be.
In 2015 alone, 663 children aged 12 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 121,350 were injured in roadway accidents the previous year. Of those who perished in 2015, 35% were not buckled up, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Still, it seems Safety in Seconds may be a rare application that actually lives up to its name. Researchers are currently working on a second survey to measure the app’s effectiveness. And in the meantime, avenues are being explored to promote the digital tool, to help ensure children are riding the roads as safely as possible.