Ensure Security during Travel in Children with Special Needs?

Now there is more awareness about the need to reduce accidents that car accidents can have on children, and all (or almost) we are more clear than the best prevention through using restraint systems appropriate to the weight of the kids.

But what happens with children that have special needs?, What if they could not use chairs or conventional lifts due to physical or psychological conditions?

In an attempt to answer these questions, the Mapfre Foundation has a very complete descriptive report, which has references to experiences in other countries, and some tips. Called ‘children with special needs and their safety in the car’. It let’s extract some points of interest along two deliveries.
Some children they have particular needs related to certain conditions, temporary or permanent nature medical, emotional or learning. When they travel as passengers in vehicles engine, all children must be protected with restraint systems appropriate to their size and level of development. In addition, some children with certain medical conditions need greater care in selecting the most appropriate restraint system.

In Spain every year around 400,000 children are born, and the child population aged 0-14 reaches virtually the 7,000,000. It has been estimated that there are in Spain a minimum of 60,000 children with special needs from the point of view of its transport in the car, although the real figure is probably much higher population rate children with special needs. Table 1 population rate children with special needs. Table 2

Obviously have very specific needs that prevent using the same devices than other children, is a matter which should motivate to propose solutions. Thus while in countries like USA, Canada or Sweden there published and easily accessible guidelines on safety in the car of the children with special needs, in Spain, and to date, there is nothing comparable. In fact many parents resort to craft solutions.

And is that although homologated seats to which we have access any of us in childcare or superstores, shops are valid for some of these children, others that are normally more difficult to acquire special or adapted and they are significantly more expensive, with prices that may widely exceed 1,000 euros.

Child safety seats reduce substantially the risk of injury in the event of traffic accidents, and all children, regardless of their status, physical or mental, are entitled to the highest level of security as they move in the car

What we think when we talk about children with special needs?

Some children have particular needs, and there are children who require greater care in selecting the most appropriate restraint system.

Special needs can be of many types

  • Physical temporary or short-term (preterm infants or surgical interventions, for example)
  • Permanent physical, or Chronicles (lack of muscle tone, OI)
  • Psychic or emotional
  • Related problems of development (or, in certain cases, of learning)
  • Behavior or behaviour-related conditions…

Some special needs are of moderate importance or temporary, while others can be much more serious or permanent. Each child with special needs and their family can be, in short, unique or “special”

Recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics

This body is the main and source of advice on child health in the United States. According to the AAP, children with special needs should have access to the resources needed for safe transportation; In addition, the families and caregivers of these children should have basic information and tips on how to select a child seat, how to install it in the family vehicles and school transportation, and how properly seating children in their seats.

Parents should be kept adequately informed about the resources available to travel safely with children with special needs, so that does not need to go to unsafe products or craft solutions. Because never modify by hand a child seat so that it can be used by a child with special needs; Similarly, you should never use a seat that has been modified to be used by children with special needs, except if the seat has been approved and has passed relevant crash tests in laboratory.

General tips

(offer only a selection of them, since they are fully developed in the full report of the Fundación Mapfre)

  • Depending on the medical condition of the child, it may be advisable limit the unnecessary.
  • Child seats that look back they should never be located in front of a front airbag, unless this has been disabled. The front airbag can also be very dangerous when using forward-facing car seats.
  • The back seat is the safest for any child: whenever possible, the children must travel in the rear seats of the vehicle.
  • If a child with special medical conditions required to be observed continuously, or very often during trips, then an adult should accompany him on the rear seats. If the child needs to be observed continuously and can not be accompanied in the back seat by another adult who supervises him, then he could be considered the option of requesting a certificate to install on the square of front passenger switch and disconnect the airbag, where the vehicle does not have the same.
  • When a child with special health care need leaves the hospital, the medical Protocol high should include information and training on the use of the most appropriate restraint system in each case. If necessary, the Protocol should include delivery to parents or caregivers of a proper child restraint system.
  • All children with special needs they must have a care plan that includes the necessary precautions during travel or displacement. The plan should include a protocol for action should an emergency arise during the trip. Parents should always take with you a copy of this plan, if possible next to the child restraint system.
  • If the operation to install or remove the child from his restraint system is very laborious, It may be worth applying for a parking permit for disabled. Parking for disabled people tend to be more spacious, allowing greater comfort when moving around the vehicle.
  • It should never be a child only within the vehicle, even when management that lasts just a few seconds. Your child’s safety requires that you remove the child from his seat and will reinstall whenever it adults abandon the vehicle.

I must emphasize that these recommendations are the result of a medical and social attitude typical of a country where there specific guidelines for children with special needs. Spain does not have them, however this does not mean that health professionals are not informed on the subject, so it should not neglect the need of a proper communication with them

The objective of this document is help to families with children with special needs, those who daily face a very high number of profound challenges, tips and technical solutions of help to have at least in the field of the safety of your child in the car.

This work has been possible thanks to the special sensitivity to child road safety and, in particular, for children with special needs, the MAPFRE Foundation and its Institute of road safety.

For our part We are still within three days with a summary of the review of experiences in other countries and how certain conditions preclude the use of wheelchairs and elevators that are the market.

Images | various brennemans on Flickr, Fundación Mapfre