Safety

Road safety and our children

A good car seat is the solution. When correctly installed, it can reduce up to 70% the probabilities of death and severe injuries. According to a study led in 2007, 2 children out of 3 are not safe in cars. Indeed, while 83 % of them are using a seat that is appropriate for their weight and age, in only 41% cases, these car seat are properly installed and the child is correctly attached 2.

Even today, 1.4 % of children are not attached, whether by a car seat or by a seatbelt. Sometimes, children are even sitting on their parent’s lap or standing on the backseat3.

At a speed of 50 km/h, the weight of moving objects is multiplied 35 times. In case of impact, a 9kg child would become a 315kg projectile that could crash on the dashboard or be ejected from the vehicle4.

You only have a short way to go? Be sure to install your child in his seat because more than half of the accidents occur in 50km/h zones and within 8km from home.

In a car, children who measure less than 63 cm when seated (between the seat and the top of their head) must be seated in an appropriate seat for their weight. Violators could be fines $115 to $154 and earn 3-demerit points5.

When travelling in a taxi and without a car seat, children must use a seatbelt unless they are too small to remain seated on their own.

But having a car seat is not enough: it must be well chosen, well installed and it must securely fasten the child.

Whether your child is big or small, it is your responsibility.

How to choose a car seat?

When choosing a car seat, make sure to buy one that is adapted to the weight of your child, meaning6:

  • A newborn seat for babies weighing less than 9-10 kg (20-22 lbs.);
    • Always installed at the back;
    • Rear facing: in a collision, his neck and ribcage will absorb the impact in a better way.
    • Make sure that your baby’s head does not exceed the top of the backrest. He will be protected against further injuries to the neck and head if a sudden stop occurs7.
  • A child seat for children weighing 9 to 18 kg (20 to 40 lbs.), or 9 to 30 kg (20 to 65 lbs.) if your car allows;
  • A booster seat for children over 18 kg (40 lbs.);
    • Allows to adjust the belt to the collarbone and hip;
    • The seatbelt should never be slipped behind the back of your child9.

Until your child is one year old, he must be rear-facing9. If he has reached the maximum weight for his newborn seat and is not yet a year old, buy a child seat that can be placed rear-facing. When your child reaches his first birthday, you can install it facing forward.

A child seat should only be used for car transportation. During his first months of life, it is not advisable to leave your child in his seat for more than an hour. During long journeys, take frequent breaks to change his position and hold him in your arms. The car seat should not be used as a sleeping device because it is not as safe to sleep in10

Until what age should we use a booster seat11?

It is not the age of the child that determines when the booster seat is no longer needed, but his weight and size. If the child is not big enough and if his legs are not long enough, he will tend to slide under the belt to be comfortable and avoid resting his calves on the tip of the seat. In case of accident, this position can result in serious injury to the spine or internal organs because it places his seatbelt on his stomach rather than his hips.

What about the airbag12?

When released, the airbag literally explodes. If its presence reduces injuries in children from 9 to 12 years old, it is not true for younger children. The impact can cause severe damage to their heads and cervical spine.

What is the impact of a car accident on my child?

The impact caused by a car accident can be the source of musculoskeletal injuries. Although children involved in a car accident do not necessarily complain about pain, a change in their sleep patterns or diet can be a sign that something is wrong.

Even a collision at low speed can have a significant impact on your child. Stay alert to changes in his habits. However, since children have a greater ligamentous laxity at the cervical spine, the incidence of ligament injury is not as high as for an adult for the same collision13.

A neurological examination is important following a collision if you want to eliminate the possibility of nerve damage. Despite the fact that children have a greater ligament laxity, the spinal cord does not support a big stretch.

The symptoms of pain or stiffness in any area of ​​the body should be investigated following a car accident. The areas most commonly affected are the head, neck, back, chest and abdomen.

What symptoms could affect my child following a car crash14? 
  • Headaches
  • Back or neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability and fatigue
  • Difficulty moving a body region 

The moment when the first symptoms appear is important. When pain occurs a few hours after the accident, prompt medical investigation is important. If symptoms appear within a few days, they may be associated with muscle spasms and an inflammatory response. When recurring symptoms such as headaches develop weeks or months after the accident, the cause may be residing in the development of adhesions in the muscles of the neck following the accident.

A chiropractor can perform a thorough assessment of your child's condition following a car accident. Chiropractic care can help reduce the symptoms experienced by your child. In case of nausea, vomiting or head shocks, immediately go to the nearest hospital.

Regular monitoring at the chiropractor helps identify possible sources of spinal dysfunction and prevent the emergence of future problems. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, treatment may include recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, like ways to improve the posture of your child, tips on wearing a backpack and exercises. Proper spinal hygiene is the key to better health.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact me.

References

  1. SAAQ
  2. SAAQ
  3. SAAQ
  4. SAAQ
  5. SAAQ
  6. Caring for kids (CPS)
  7. Association des chiropraticiens du Québec
  8. Association des chiropraticiens du Québec
  9. Caring for kids (CPS)
  10. SAAQ
  11. SAAQ
  12. Association des chiropraticiens du Québec
  13. Fysh, Peter, Chiropractic care for the pediatric patient, 2nd Edition, ICA Council on chiropractic pediatric, 2010
  14. Fysh, Peter, Chiropractic care for the pediatric patient, 2nd Edition, ICA Council on chiropractic pediatric, 2010

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