Ellen A. Black


Deaths of children due to vehicle accidents have drastically decreased since 1985, the year in which all states enacted laws requiring children to be secured in child safety restraints when traveling in a vehicle. Yet, vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death for children in this country, with at least three children under the age of fourteen dying each day and 462 suffering from severe injuries due to vehicle accidents. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics set forth recommendations seeking to lower these troubling statistics, but thus far, only four states have enacted legislation that mirrors, at least in part, the AAP’s recommendations. These states have charted a necessary path for other states to follow. A few states have attempted to pass stronger child safety restraint laws, but were unsuccessful due, in part, to misinformation surrounding the laws or concerns regarding governmental overreach. Nonetheless, states that have not enacted stronger child safety restraint laws need to heed the AAP’s recommendations and enact legislation that better protects children who otherwise will continue to be buckled up in a way that conflicts with the compelling scientific evidence.

As the author of Oklahoma’s child safety restraint bill, which included the AAP’s recommendations, succinctly explained, “[w]hile we are required to buckle up, we aren’t required to buckle them up in a way that would save their lives.” It is time for all states to require children be buckled up in a way that would save their lives.