Experts push seatbelt safety after 3-year-old ejected from car & killed in Tuscaloosa County

Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 12:23 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Driving experts are urging you to buckle up your kids when you are in the car, this after a 3-year-old was killed in a crash in Tuscaloosa County this week.

ALEA said a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old passenger were not using seat belts or child restraints at the time of the crash and were ejected from the car, along with the unbuckled driver. Troopers said the 3-year-old passenger was then hit and killed by another vehicle. That vehicle then fled the scene.

Alabama State Troopers say they frequently pull cars over and find adults inside not buckled up. ALEA said it’s less common to find children not in their safety seats. They said that more than 50% of traffic deaths in the state are from not being buckled in.

Experts with Alabama AAA said it’s legally the driver’s responsibility to make sure all kids are safely secured.

“There are still a lot of people that don’t like seatbelts and don’t want to wear them,” Clay Ingram with AAA said. “We have seen it time and time again, where kids get bounced around in a car, or getting ejected from the vehicle.”

Ingram said it’s legally the parents responsibility to buckle their kids up until they are 15 years old.

“Up until fifteen, the parents are responsible for the kids,” Ingram said. “They’re not old enough, or mature enough, or responsible enough to put the seat belt on themselves. The parents have to do that for them.”

Seat belt laws vary depending on your child’s size.

“If you have a child that is twenty pounds or less, they need to be in a rear facing car seat,” Ingram said. “They can be in a forward facing car seat until they are either five years old or forty pounds.”

After that, they need to be in a booster seat until around 10 years old.

“I mean less than 30 miles an hour is still dangerous for occupants of a vehicle to not be wearing a seat belt, especially children,” Ingram said.

Teenagers sixteen and up still have to wear their seat belt, it’s a law for all passengers in the state.

“They are then responsible themselves at that point to have their seat belt on,” he said.

Alabama State Troopers are still looking for the driver that hit and killed the 3-year-old child in Tuscaloosa County.

They did not have an update on the condition of the other child or the driver who was also not wearing a seat belt.

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