According to the Arizona Child Fatality Review (CFR), motor vehicle crashes are the third most common cause of child death in Arizona and the number one most common preventable cause of child death in the state. While knowing when and where a car crash will happen is impossible, you can still take steps to lower your child’s risk.
Simply knowing how to properly reduce this risk is half the battle. According to the CDC, proper car seat, booster seat, or seat belt configuration can reduce the risk of child injury and death in a car accident by as much as 82%. However, according to one study by the NHTSA, as many as 72% of child restraint devices are misused by parents and could end up causing additional injury in the event of a crash.
As a driver in the state of Arizona, you are always legally liable for the safety of any children in your car, and you are responsible for placing them in the proper restraints for their age and size. Not only could you be subject to fines if you don’t follow these guidelines, but you could also be responsible for their injuries in the event of an accident.
Car Accidents and Child Safety in Phoenix
As the largest city in Arizona, Phoenix leads the state in both car accident numbers and costs. Therefore, if you live in or commute to the Phoenix area, making sure that your children are safe and protected is incredibly important.
As you may know, Arizona is a comparative fault state, meaning that a court will determine how much of the accident you are legally responsible for based on how much of the accident was your fault. You and other parties could both be 50% responsible, one of you could be 100% and the other 0% responsible, or any other combination of percentages in between.
However, if your child was not properly secured, fault could fall back on you in a court of law, meaning you could be legally responsible for any of your child’s injuries. Not only can this responsibility be devastating financially, but it can be emotionally challenging, as well.
What Does the CDC Recommend?
The CDC is an excellent resource for child safety advice, especially when it comes to car accidents as a leading cause of childhood deaths. While the organization does not offer state-specific advice for Arizona residents, they provide excellent general guidelines for you to follow. Some examples include:
- Always use the correct child seat or booster seat configuration for your child’s age, weight, and size.
- Use a rear-facing car seat for children under the age of two and front-facing configurations for children ages two and up.
- Always seat children in the rear seats of your vehicle.
- Always buckle your child tightly and securely into their safety system, regardless of trip length or distance.
- Consider hiring a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to help you install any car seats or booster seats if you feel lost or need assistance.
- Always wear a seat belt to set a good precedent for your children.
These guidelines are excellent steps to take to increase your child’s safety in the vehicle.
Child Car Restraint and Seat Belt Laws in Arizona
Child restraint laws tend to vary from state to state. In the state of Arizona, the laws around child restraint systems are relatively broad. As long as your restraint configurations comply with Arizona law, you can choose from several different options. The rules and regulations you should be familiar with are:
- All children under the age of five must use a child restraint system that complies with federal safety regulations.
- All children between the ages of five and eight must use a child restraint system that complies with federal regulations until they reach a height of 4’9”.
- Once a child is over the age of five and reaches 4’9” tall, they must use a seat belt.
Arizona also offers a few exceptions to the above rules, but these exceptions do not apply to the vast majority of parents and drivers. You and your child are exempt from the above rules if your vehicle:
- Was manufactured without seat belts (i.e., manufactured before 1972 or a large-scale passenger vehicle, such as a bus)
- Is a recreational vehicle only
- Is a commercial vehicle and the driver possesses a CDL
As a driver, you are also exempt from the listed rules if you are transporting a child for emergency medical care.
Child Restraint Failures and Recalls
Although rare, certain child seats, booster seats, and restraints can sometimes be subject to recalls due to defects or safety concerns. If you suspect that your child seat malfunctioned in the event of an accident, contact our professional legal team today, and we will help you explore your options.
Contact Folger Law today at (602) 932-0552 for a free initial case evaluation.