A personal injury firm is holding a “Car Seats for Kids” giveaway and educational campaign to help keep more children safe in Virginia.
The event is being held by GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys in Gloucester. Though the firm traditionally holds an annual fall coat drive, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, partners Ken Gibson and John Singleton have organized this “touchless” contest, instead.
“Our children are the most precious cargo we carry, so we want to help keep them safe by giving away car seats and encouraging everyone to use them,” Gibson said.
For GibsonSingleton, however, this campaign is about more than giving away free car seats – it’s about educating the public that “without a carseat, kids are exponentially more likely to be hurt in a car wreck – even a low speed car wreck,” Singleton said.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children over the age of 3 every year in the United States. Seat belts and car seats cut the risk of serious injury and death in a crash is reduced by half, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“One of the things we’re really trying to focus on is to make people realize that they not only should have younger children under the age of 8 in car seats, they’re also legally required to,” Singleton said.
The following safety restraints are required in the commonwealth, according to Virginia Code:
- Rear-facing seats in the back seat for children until age 2 or the child reaches the seat manufacturer minimum weight limit for forward-facing seats
- Forward-facing car seats in the back seat for children up to age 8
- Seatbelts for all children up to age 18
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends the following:
- Belt-positioning booster seats for school-age children until regular belts fit properly.
- Kids big enough for regular seat belts should remain in the back seat until age 13.
In addition to writing about car seat safety on the firm’s blog, the firm has a banner in front of its building regarding the importance of car seats, offers safety tips to parents in the local newspaper and is advising parents to visit the Gloucester Sheriff’s Department for a “safety check” where officers will check to ensure car seats have been installed safely and properly and answer related questions.
“We are just trying to give parents and caregivers all the information we can to keep their children safe,” said Beth Gibson, director of community outreach at the firm.
This is not the first educational campaign that GibsonSingleton has held in its community. Every spring, the firm holds the “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of texting while driving.
The firm offers an annual $1,000 college scholarship to a high school or college student who writes the winning essay about how young people can drive more safely.
Finally, GibsonSingleton has also staged a number of “mock trials” with local high school students to demonstrate what can happen when teens drink alcohol and drive.
“As personal injury attorneys, we represent people who have been hurt. But our outreach has always been on how to prevent those injuries,” Singleton said.
GibsonSingleton will give away car seats in October, November and December. Once a winner is chosen, the firm will gather the child’s age, height and weight and enter the information into a tool on the National Highway and Safety Administration website that will suggest the safest car seat for that child.
“I think our overall philosophy when we formed our law firm is that, as personal injury lawyers, we see first hand the dangers of car crashes… and what can happen when a child isn’t in a car seat,” Singleton said. “Because we’re specialized in this, we felt called to try and prevent accidents and educate the community on how they can protect themselves and their families.”
To enter each month starting Oct. 1, participants may visit the firm’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GibsonSingleton, and nominate themselves or someone else who has children to win. Email Beth Gibson at [email protected] for more information.
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