The leading cause of accidental death for kids 1 to 24 is car accidents

(AP Photo/Brad C Bower)

Life is such a delicate thing when a baby is brought into this world and why proud new parents Michael and Elizabeth Gurecki are already hard at work. Two days after their daughter Rowan was born they started learning how to keep their daughter properly secured in a child safety seat they both know is a necessity.

“I know for both of us that’s our biggest goal,” Said Michael. “Making sure we have the best car seat and everything is done correctly.”

An important step because properly installed child safety seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71% for infants, 54% for toddlers, and 45% for children ages 4-to 8, plus, seats keep getting safer according to injury specialist at Sparrow Hospital Mickie Kreft.

“The evolution in car seats is wonderful, they are bigger stronger, and safer.”

Kreft has been teaching moms and dads how to correctly secure children in cars for 17 years,  but says 3 out of every 4 child safety seats she inspects are installed incorrectly —  one of three major mistakes helping to make car accidents the number 1 killer for kids.

“That’s the sad part, in all the years I’ve been doing this the stats haven’t changed all that much. I don’t know how to correct that.”

Help is available, in fact, every Tuesday at Sparrow Hospital child safety seat checks can be scheduled for free and should be used.

Another roadway safety problem is distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving accounts for 9 deaths and 1000 injuries every day in America and another preventable way Michigan kids are being injured and killed. The biggest factor for fatal injuries according to Trooper Daniel Bowman with the Michigan State Patrol is distracted driving.

“We’re conditioned; if your phone goes off you want to know what it is.” says Bowman.  “It’s that human nature of if my phone busses or I get an alert, why do we have those alerts – to get our attention.”

Authorities from across Michigan are now seriously focusing on how to disconnect drivers, especially teenagers, through various programs. Plus, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department recently held an enforcement day resulting in 88 traffic stops in just one afternoon.

The easiest way to stop your phone from distracting you is to shut it off while in the car or throw it in the back seat on silent. Drivers could use Bluetooth technology to stay connected, but if you don’t have this option you can find an app that may help.

Authorities say inexperience behind the wheel also heavily contributes to why car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Officials across Michigan are holding teen driving workshops because they say young drivers have a higher incidence of speeding, overturning, and not providing enough room for their vehicle to maneuver.

“The big one that I’m seeing with them is following distance,” says Bowman. “That space around their vehicle, the speed they are traveling, how much room they have with cars, that’s a big one.”

An important driving lesson Gurecki will soon teach little Rowan, but right now, Kreft is on the case and making sure mom and dad feel safe driving home.

“I’m just really thankful we got the experience today to learn some of those things so she can be safe going home and it keeps my anxiety down because I get pretty worked up, ha ha….”

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