Lack of child safety seats in taxis puts kids at risk: study

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Baltimore – Most young children who ride in taxis aren’t placed in child safety seats, potentially raising their risk for injury or death, according to research from Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

Although all states require young children to be restrained in child safety seats when riding in a motor vehicle, many municipalities exempt taxis from these regulations.

As part of the study, researchers observed taxis picking up and unloading passengers at 11 New York metro area locations. Sixty-nine taxis picked up 116 infants, toddlers and children whose height did not exceed that of the side-view mirror. Of those, only 11 percent were placed in safety seats – nearly all of them infants who were already in carriers.

The researchers also called 97 taxi companies in the New York area. Of the nearly 40 percent that said they have child safety seats available, 18 percent said the seats were limited or required a reservation, and 8 percent said they would charge money to use them. Some companies cited “health code restrictions and allergy and hygiene concerns” as reasons for not providing child safety seats, according to a press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The academy recommends securing infants and toddlers in rear-facing safety seats and children in safety seats or belt-positioning booster seats until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

Sarah Koffsky, a high school student who served as the study’s principal investigator through an internship at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, noted that more than 40,000 motor vehicle collisions involving taxis, limousines, and car services occurred in 2015 alone. “Although it may be easier when travelling with young children to not have to worry about car seats, convenience should not factor into decisions regarding child safety,” Koffsky said.

The researchers shared their findings May 1 and 2 at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting.