• Family's Tragic Accident Shows Why Back Seat Passengers Should Wear Seat Belts

    Don't compromise your child's safety inside a vehicle. Always wear a seat belt.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Family's Tragic Accident Shows Why Back Seat Passengers Should Wear Seat Belts
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Car accidents are a painful reminder that everything can be gone in the blink of an eye.

    Last July 6, 2018, a Filipino family figured in a fatal car crash in Delaware, New Jersey when a heavy-duty pickup crossed a highway and ended up on the wrong side of the road, crashing into the family’s Toyota Sienna mini-van.

    The father, a Filipino immigrant, Audie Trinidad, 61, along with his four daughters, Kaitlyn, 20; Danna, 17; and 13-year-old twins Melissa and Allison, died on the spot. Audie's wife and the mom of the four girls, Mary Rose, survived and is currently being treated at the Christiana Hospital for broken ribs, arms, and legs, according to a report by The Washington Post.

    Audie and Mary Rose were found properly restrained in the front, but the four daughters, who were riding in the back, were not wearing seat belts. The driver and passenger inside the pick-up that slammed into the mini-van were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, says CBS.

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    Photos taken from the scene showed the Trinidad family's mini-van with massive front-end damage, according to CBS. The vehicle’s roof appeared to have been cut off, perhaps so rescue workers could reach the family.

    This tragic accident underscores the importance of securing yourself inside any vehicle, whether you are a child or an adult. In the Philippines, an average of 262 road crashes happens daily in Metro Manila. The Department of Health (DOH) also said in a report that among kids under the age of 17, road crashes are the second leading cause of death.

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    If you’re traveling with children, here are some important reminders from the updated car safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

    1. All babies should be in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 2 years old or until they have reached weight and height recommendation of their car seat manufacturer. A recent study has proven that this is the best and safest option, especially if your car is hit from behind.

    2. Toddlers or preschoolers should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness when they've outgrown their rear-facing car seat's height and weight recommendation.

    3. Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat should use belt-positioning booster seats until they reached 4 feet and 9 inches in height, which would be around age 12.

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    4. When kids are tall enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. Children under age 13 should always stay in the back seat.

    5. The safest place for a child in a car is the middle back seat. If possible, install the child car seat in the middle of the back seat. However, some car seats don't allow this, so make sure to follow the installation guidelines of the manufacturer. (View the complete guidelines here.)

    According to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.4.

    If your kid is old enough to use a seat belt, here’s how to ensure that it is used and that it fits correctly:

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    1. The shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat

    2. The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the belly.

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    3. Your child is tall enough to sit against the car’s seat with her knees bent over the edge of the seat without slouching. Make sure that your child can comfortably stay in this position throughout the trip.

    4. Make sure that your child does not tuck the shoulder belt under her arm or behind her back. This will leave his upper body unprotected and may put him at risk of severe injury in the event of a crash or a sudden brake.

    5. All passengers must have their own car seats or seat belts. Seat belts are not for sharing.

    Car seats and seat belts are crucial in keeping you safe inside your car but unfortunately, many Filipino families dismiss this. This tragedy is a wake-up call for all of us to never compromise our child’s safety when on the road.

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    Audie and Mary Rose were found properly restrained in the front, but the four daughters, who were riding in the back, were not wearing seat belts. The driver and passenger inside the pick-up that slammed into the mini-van were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, says CBS.
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