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Many parents don’t use child car seats in ride-share vehicles

A new study finds that 10 percent of parents allow kids to travel on their lap or unrestrained

Photo (c) miodrag ignjatovic - Getty Images
The use of age-appropriate car seats among parents who take ride-share services with young children is alarmingly low, a new study finds. 

A national survey published in the journal Academic Pediatrics found that only half of U.S. parents reported that children 8 years or younger used the recommended child car seats or booster seats when in ride-share vehicles with them. 

Forty percent of parents who take ride-share vehicles with children aged 8 and younger use a seat belt for their child, and 10 percent allow their child to travel on their lap or unrestrained. The study authors said the results of the survey are “concerning” because of the popularity of ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. 

“Car accidents remain the leading cause of death for children under 10 years old and traveling without the recommended child restraint system increases the risk for serious injury or death in a crash,” said senior study author Dr. Michelle Macy, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

“Importantly, our findings suggest that even parents who usually use child car seats face barriers to doing so in ride-share vehicles. Or, parents may view traveling in ride-share services as different, in terms of risk and legal requirements, than traveling in their family vehicle,” Macy said in a statement. 

Most states require use of car seats

Generally, parents reported lower rates of child car seat use when in ride-share vehicles compared to how they normally ride with their child. The researchers noted that most states do require children younger than 8 to travel in a child car seat or booster seat when in ride-share vehicles. 

"A lack of awareness of laws and policies requiring car seats and booster seats in ride-share vehicles may be a reason for our findings. Solutions include enforcement of policies, reminders from ride-share apps, signs posted in ride-share vehicles, education from pediatricians and public health campaigns," Macy said.

"These interventions could be targeted toward families of school-age children, since this age group had more suboptimal restraint use in ride-share," she noted.

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