BALTIMORE — Despite AAP guidelines, a significant proportion of children riding in taxis are not properly restrained in car safety seats, according to recent study findings presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.
While the AAP recommends that children be secured by car safety seats or belt-positioning booster seats until they reach the height of 4’9”, several states have laws which exempt taxis from the car seat laws that apply to those driving in standard passenger vehicles.
“Given that car safety seats have been shown to significantly decrease the risk of death or injury from motor vehicle collisions, there should be no exemptions in car seat safety laws for taxi services,” Ruth Milanaik, DO, from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY, said in a press release. “When it comes to child safety, even one preventable injury calls for a change in policy.”
To ascertain the use of car safety seats among children riding in taxis – and evaluate whether car safety seats were readily available through taxi companies – the researchers posted at 11 locations in the New York metropolitan area, observing passengers with small children as they embarked/disembarked from taxis. In their observation, Milanaik and colleagues noted the number of adult and child passengers, whether car safety seats were used and the demographics for all passengers.
The researchers then assessed availability of car safety seats among taxis via anonymous phone inquiries to taxi companies based in the New York metropolitan area, chosen from the top search results on an online directory.
According to study results, among 67 taxis observed with children (n=116), only 11% of the children were properly restrained, and these were almost entirely infants in infant carriers.
Among the taxi companies (n=97) in the New York area that were surveyed, the researchers found that 39% reported an availability of car safety seats. Of the taxis companies that did offer car safety seats, 18% noted that car safety seats were limited or required a reservation, and 8% mentioned that there would be an extra fee. When questioned about their policies for not providing car safety, other taxi companies stated reasons including health code restrictions, allergies and hygiene.
“Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death among children in the United States,” principal investigator Tammy Pham told Infectious Diseases in Children. “While the exemption of taxis from occupant restraint laws provides convenience for taxi companies, as well as for parents traveling with small children, it nonetheless poses a risk for children who ride unrestrained by proper safety seats.”
Pham concluded, “We encourage changes in laws to require use of car safety seats in all motor vehicles, including taxis. To this end, taxi companies should make car safety seats available to child passengers, and parents should make sure to always secure their children in proper safety seats whenever traveling in a motor vehicle, even if the law does not yet mandate it.”– by Bob Stott
Koffsky S, et al. Abstract 2873.575. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting; April 30-May 3, 2016; Baltimore.
Disclosure: The researchers reported no relevant financial disclosures.