About 15 years ago, my mom and I were in a car accident. A sports car sped down the highway and hit a vehicle that stop short, which caused it to careen into our SUV. It was a frightening experience that left a lasting impression and has caused me to be extra cautious while I'm on the road. And now with a toddler in tow, I'm even more terrified of what might happen while I'm driving. That's why this viral video about booster seats has put the fear of God in me, and every parent should watch it.
Last month, the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) posted a short video to its Facebook page that used graphic imagery to discuss the dangers of chucking your kid's booster seat too soon, according to Scary Mommy. The research-backed piece starts innocently enough: A 9-year-old boy straps himself in the backseat, without a booster, of his mom's SUV. His mom starts driving slowly down the street when another car slams into their vehicle. The mom wakes up with blood on her face; she turns to see her son, who is bloody and unconscious. At the hospital, the doctor informs her that he may have suffered serious internal injuries.
The video is terrifying to watch, to be honest — and purposefully so. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that, during 2015, more than 660 children 12 years old and younger died, and more than 121,350 were injured, in auto accidents. Of those kids killed, 35 percent were not buckled in their seats. In one year, more than 618,000 kids ages 12 and younger rode in cars without being strapped into a safety seat or booster seat, or using a seat belt, at least some of the time, the CDC reported.
Although child passenger safety laws differ by state, best practices dictate that kids remain in belt-positioning booster seats until they are 12 years old, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children would stop needing a booster seat when they reach 4-feet, 9-inches tall. So, even you think your kid's big enough to only use a seat belt, chances are you're wrong.
As Child Passenger Safety instructor Georjeane Blumling explains in the video, which was produced by EVMS, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters,
An unrestrained child, even at 30 miles an hour, will experience the same force as if they fell out of a third-story window. Children simply do not fit in a vehicle with an adult seat belt until they are at least 4-foot-9.
A lack of a booster seat can have fatal consequences in the event of a motor vehicle accident. As depicted in the video, strapping your kid in the seat of a car before they're ready can result in life-threatening injuries. Dr. Phillip Thomas, a pediatrics resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School, explains in the video,
Far too often, you see many kids come in with internal organ damage, damage to the large vessels. All due to improper use of adult safety belts in kids that should have otherwise been in a booster seat.
Auto accidents are frightening, even if you're not a parent. But when you have a kid to care for, you see every car on the road as a possible death machine. I know that I am scared that the wrong turn or the overzealous driver may put me and my son in a deadly situation. If nothing else, the Eastern Virginia Medical School video reminds parents that they should remain diligent in following current child passenger safety recommendations. Doing so can be lifesaving.