Many traffic fatalities are due to improper use, or no use at all, of a vehicle’s mandatory safety features. In San Bernardino, like many Inland Empire cities, is home to almost 50% of the households have children. Many times, the victims of serious injuries and fatalities are children and young adults because the proper safety precautions are not followed.
In California, all passengers in a vehicle are required to wear a seatbelt if the vehicle is equipped with them. Often times, due to a false sense of security—such that one is less likely to get in a collision on a short trip to the market near one’s home—or to a desire for greater comfort—“the seatbelt is uncomfortable”, for example—people avoid the simple act of latching their seatbelts. There is also a falsely held belief for some that in a serious accident where the vehicle ignites, a seatbelt will keep you from being able to escape and thus cause further injury. The simple fact is that serious injuries resulting from car accidents are reduced, on average, by more than 50% when seatbelts are in use. (http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html) If you are in a car as passenger or driver, your seatbelt should be on.
Children less than 8 years of age and less than 57” tall must be in the rear seats if available. This, too, is often ignored for the sake of comfort or convenience. Statistics have shown that while airbags are often responsible for saving lives in adults, a young child can be killed or seriously injured by an airbag. Riding with a safety belt in the back seat significantly reduces the chance that a child involve din an auto accident will suffer serious injuries.
Infants must be restrained in a specific fashion as well. An infant in California must be secured in a rear-facing car seat in the rear of the vehicle (if no rear seat is available, the airbag in the front seat must be disabled). While many parents are tempted to hold their infant while they are passengers in a vehicle, statistics show that an infant’s risk of death or serious injury is reduced by more than 71% through the proper use of car seats. (http://www.cdc.gov/features/passengersafety/) For more information on traffic safety and how San Bernardino residents can protect their children and passengers against injury in the case of a car accident, numerous resources are available on the California Highway Patrol site, the Center for Disease Control website, and the San Bernardino County Traffic S.A.F.E. Program site (http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/publichealth/programs_services/traffic_safe /traffic_safe_home.asp).