car safety

The deadly car safety mistake too many parents are making

Sep. 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM ET

33 Percent of Parents Don't Use Seat Belts
Johner Images/Getty Images /
33 Percent of Parents Don't Use Seat Belts

You may not have used seat belts when you were a kid, but that’s a thing of the past, right? Maybe not.

You won’t believe this stat: of the 679 kids under 12 that died in car crashes in 2011, 33 percent were not buckled up in a car seat, booster or seat belt, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Overall, 1 in 4 parents admit they’ve driven without restraining their kids.

Car seat safety has improved immensely in the past 30 years, with deaths from car crashes dropping 58 percent since 1987. However, we still have a ways to go. As part of this week's Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids is releasing a new study, funded by a grant from General Motors Foundation, that looks into why some parents are still not using seat belts, and the deadly reasons those excuses don’t hold up. And the justifications might sound familiar, so listen up.

21 percent of parents said it’s okay to not buckle up if you’re not going a long distance. However, 60 percent of car accidents occur less than 10 minutes from home. 16 percent of parents said it’s acceptable to skip the seat belt for an overnight trip, but nighttime is when kids are most likely to be injured in a crash.

Remember, when Britney Spears gave the fact that she was “country” as her excuse for riding with her baby on her lap? Myth busted. Affluent, well-educated parents are actually more likely to make excuses for buckling up. However, older parents are better about restraining their kids consistently than younger parents.

Since kids tend to remember the exception rather than the rule (as you know from that one time you let them jump on the couch), it’s important to follow these rules from Safe Kids:

1. Buckle up kids on every ride, every time.

2. Talk to other parents who are driving your kids about the importance of buckling up.

3. Check that the right child safety seat is being used and that it’s installed properly.

Mom of two Sasha Emmons is a writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.