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Why are child passengers safer in some states than others?

Responsible parents would like to believe that their kids are equally safe in their vehicles no matter where they live. However, a recent study by Brigham and Women's Hospital found a considerable difference among states in the percentage of fatal accidents involving children.

The good news for New Jersey residents is that our state has the third lowest traffic death rate for children in the country. In fact, four of the five safest states are in the Northeast. The five states with the highest rates are predominantly southern and western ones.

According to the study's lead author, many fatal accidents occur on rural roads and/or those that aren't well maintained. He also noted that rural roads are more likely to be poorly lit and in areas with strong winds.

Other factors that lead to this wide difference in death tolls are within a driver's control. Proper use of child restraints, for example, is "the biggest factor in more kids dying," said the author. On average, some one fifth of kids were either improperly restrained or not restrained at all in severe crashes. That number is almost double, however, in Mississippi, which is the state with the worst death rate.

Even with child restraint and seat belt laws in force, seat belt education is essential. These educational efforts have been stepped up in recent years, but clearly have a ways to go.

While you often can't control the actions of another driver, you can take steps to ensure that your children and all of your passengers are safely restrained. You can also take extra care on roads that have potentially treacherous conditions and poor visibility. Nonetheless, if you and your family are the victims of a reckless or negligent driver, you should explore your legal options for seeking justice and compensation.

Source: CBS News, "Best and worst states for kids' car safety," Mary Brophy Marcus, accessed June 16, 2017

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