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Are airline restraint policies putting your child in danger?

Thousands of motor vehicle accidents happen nearly every month across the nation. In fact, they are considered by many transportation authorities to be the leading cause of serious injury and death in the United States. But according to the National Transportation Safety Board, a lot of serious and fatal injuries can be prevented if more people would wear seat belts.

While many of our California readers have heard this said about motor vehicles on the ground, few have heard it mentioned in relation to airplanes. Reports about these transportation accidents hardly ever highlight the danger of not wearing proper safety restraints during a crash or turbulence. And it’s because of this that has the NTSB particularly concerned.

In a 2001 report issued by the NTSB, the agency noted that “the best way to avoid injury and death [in a commercial aviation accident] is to be restrained in a seat during a crash, turbulence, and during takeoff and landing.” But while adults are required to wear seat belts on a plane, this is not the case for children under the age of two. If our luggage and other belongings must be stowed during flight to prevent others from suffering injury, why is there no requirement to properly restrain children?

Although the FAA admits that children under the age of two are safer in a restraint system than on an adult’s lap, airlines are still not required to have all children travel in an appropriate child-safety seat. This might be disconcerting to many of our San Francisco readers who fly, especially because it raises questions about liability in the event their child is injured in an aviation accident.

While there is no easy answer to the liability question, the NTSB says that aviation authorities could do more to ensure occupant safety aboard aircrafts. By requiring all passengers to wear proper safety restraints, the number of injuries and fatalities suffered in an accident could be reduced.

Source: The National Transportation Safety Board, “Strengthen Occupant Protection in Transportation,” Accessed May 21, 2014

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