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Precious cargo: Keeping kids safe in cars and planes


As families get ready to travel during the holiday season, many pediatricians are stressing the importance of child passenger safety.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S., and, according to this NPR story, many accidents could be prevented by properly installing car seats and following basic safety tips. But:

"I think we've become immune to [accidents]," says Ben Hoffman, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. "I think it happens so frequently and with such regularity that we've lost focus on how important it is. And I think that we're so reliant on cars to get us from Point A to Point B that we've sort of accepted it as the price of doing business."

Today, the National Transportation Safety Board held a one-day forum on the importance of child-safety restraints in aircraft and motor vehicles. Currently, all 50 states require infants and children to be buckled up in car seats when riding in automobiles, and the NTSB is urging the Federal Aviation Administration to apply the same requirement to flying. According to NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman:

"When you get on an airplane, you're expected to fasten your seat belt on takeoff and landing and during turbulence. The same should be true for children."

The NPR piece includes a nice primer on car seat safety tips. And many hospitals, including Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, offer car seat installations and inspections for new parents.

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito

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