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Study: Kids Still at Risk in Cars

August 5, 2001

DETROIT (AP) _ Nearly a third of drivers with children in their vehicles allow the children to ride in the front seat despite warnings that it can put them at risk of air bag injuries, a study found.

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis looked at government data from 28,000 fatal crashes between 1990 and 1998. It found that the proportion of vehicles carrying children 12 and under in the front seat declined in that period from 42 percent to 31 percent.

While many parents seem to be paying attention to safety messages, study co-author Eve Wittenberg said many children are still placed at risk. The study was published in the current edition of Pediatrics.

``Simply being in the rear seat means children are further away from impact in a frontal crash,″ Wittenberg said. ``It’s a small but significant difference.″

The study found that when a child was the only passenger, the child was five times more likely to be seated in the front than a child riding with other passengers.

Women were about four times more likely than men to seat children six years old and under in the front.

Safety consultant Ralph Hoar called the study ``well-meaning,″ but said putting children in the back seat isn’t enough to ensure their safety, especially in rear collisions.

He said rear seat positions should have lap-shoulder belts and front seats should be designed so they don’t collapse in low- to moderate-speed crashes.


On the Net:

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis: http://www.hcra.harvard.edu

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov

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