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The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has begun using a new crash test dummy built to approximate the size of the average 10-year-old. The agency developed the unit to aid researchers in understanding how car accidents affect kids over 65 pounds — the in-between stage of children's physical development when they are too large for booster seats and too small for seat belts.

NHTSA reports that 1,314 children younger than 14 years of age died in traffic accidents during 2009, and another 179,000 were injured. The use of safety seats in passenger cars can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for children up to 4.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a rear-facing seat in the back seat for kids under a year old. Kids under 4 should be in a forward-facing seat in the back. Until they turn 8, children should ride in booster seats in the back seat. No child under the age of 12 should ever ride up front.

As a car accident attorney, I’m happy to see the NHTSA has recognized the need for a "tween-sized" crash test dummy. Prepubescent children are in a special kind of danger that shouldn’t be underestimated. Many kids at this age also resent being strapped into car seats, and it can be a constant struggle to make them understand the risks associated with riding without proper safety devices.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, consider speaking with an attorney. Though safety seat designers have good intentions, their products do not always work the way they should.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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