Tyrone Hospital urges motor vehicle safety for people of all ages

The Tyrone Hospital emergency room staff wants to make sure children are as safe as possible when traveling in vehicles.
Child Passenger Safety Week, February 11-17 is a good time for parents to review their child’s safety as well as safety for all occupants in the family vehicle.
Everyone should remember the theme promoted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation this special week, (Buckle Up for Life!). It promotes child passenger safety as well as the importance that people should buckle up throughout their entire life. – from their first ride home after birth, continuing throughout life into adulthood, including senior citizens. Everyone should buckle up every time they ride in a motor vehicle.
There are special considerations for children. As children progress through different stages of growth and development, their child restraint needs changed, and it is important that parents don’t miss a step in safely restraining their children. According to the 2006 Partnership for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) Fact and Trend Report, last year in Pennsylvania, 84 percent of children between the ages of birth and eight were restrained. That same report states that last year in Pennsylvania, only 48 percent of children, ages four to eight, were restrained. Clearly, a step is being missed in teaching older children to use proper restraints.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set four steps for kids. By educating children on each step in occupant protection, they will learn to “Buckle Up for Life!”
The four steps for kids include:
1. Infants ride facing in infant seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds AND are at least one year of age.
2. Forward facing toddler seats from age one and at least 20 pounds to around age four and at least 40 pounds.
3. Booster seats from about four years old and at least 40 pounds to age 8, unless 4’9”.
4. Lap and shoulder safety belts at age eight or older and 4’9” tall. Children under 13 should ride in the back seat of the vehicle.
Buckling up your seatbelt on every ride, you may be saving your own life if involved in a crash. The National Highway and Safety Administration’s National Center for Health Statistics and Analysis research has shown “lap/shoulder safety belts when used reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat occupants (age five and older) of passenger cars by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.”
Data also shows that “among children under age five, an estimated 420 lives were saved in 2005 by child restraint use. At 100 percent child safety seat use for children under five, as estimated 518 lives (that is an additional 98) could have been saved in 2005.”
Under Pennsylvania law, all drivers are responsible for securing children in the appropriate child restraint system. All drivers are responsible for the front seat occupants to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system. All drivers under 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle in which the number of passengers exceeds the number of seat belts in the vehicle.
Basil Selden, M.D., Medical Director of the Tyrone Hospital emergency room said everyone should be cognizant of safety when traveling in a motor vehicle.
“People should also use good judgment about seeking medical care, if an accident does occur.”
Dr. Selden said if there is a motor vehicle accident that involves a fatality, there is an absolute guideline that all passengers who were in that vehicle visit a trauma center for an evaluation.
When emergency medical personnel report to the scene of an accident, they appropriately guide or transport people for medical care. But, sometimes people are involved in an accident and they debate on whether or not the accident was serious enough to merit a visit to the emergency room.
“The jarring of the body that occurs in an auto accident could cause injuries that are not apparent. There may also be injuries associated with seatbelts or air bags,” said Dr. Selden.
“If people are in an accident and any of the passengers sustain an injury or if there is any significant damage to the vehicle, I would advise that all passengers in that vehicle visit the emergency room for an evaluation.”
Dr. Selden said, “When in doubt, it is always better to be safe than sorry.”
For more information about passenger safety call 1-800-car-belt.