Is it okay to not buckle up your child if you’re only going on a short trip?  The answer is no. You should buckle up your kids no matter if you’re driving around the block or half way around the country. A new survey reveals a surprising number of parents ( one fifth) think if you’re making a short trip you don’t need to buckle-up yourself or your kids.

That kind of thinking can have tragic consequences.

Ask Ed Beaudette if leaving your child unbuckled while riding in a car is worth it. 0n July 20, 2003, he was returning from vacation with his 9-month-old daughter, Nora. She was irritable, and seemed hot and uncomfortable. Her mother, Heidi Obenosky, unbuckled Nora to remove some of her clothes.

Before Nora was buckled back in, Beaudette nodded off and crashed. Nora was killed.

Since then Beaudette and Obenosky became child safety seat advocates. "I saw a poster that said, 'A crying baby is an alive baby,'" Beaudette says. "That really hit me. Had I just ignored my parental compassion and used common sense and let Nora cry a few more miles, right now I'd be making plans for Nora's 11th birthday instead of talking to you."

The child advocacy groups “Safe Kids Worldwide” and “General Motors Foundation” conducted the survey. They foud that one-fifth of parents – 21% -- think it's acceptable to drive with their child unrestrained if they are not driving far.

But the reality of things is quite different.  Sixty percent of crashes involving children occur within 10 minutes of home. That’s according to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Injury Research and Prevention.

Who is more likely to drive unbuckled or not buckle up their children during these short trips? According to researchers, its people who are higher educated and making the most money.

More affluent parents, more educated parents, fathers and younger parents were more likely to say it was OK to ride unrestrained. For example, 34% of parents with an annual household income of $100,000 or more said it was sometimes acceptable to do that compared with just 15% of parents making less than $35,000. Parents with graduate degrees were twice as likely as parents with a high school education – 20% to 10% -- to do it.      

Researchers don't yet have an explanation for those trends, says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations working to prevent childhood injuries. "We haven't done a focus group yet that would ask, do they think their car is safer? Do they think they're a safer driver?"

No matter your education or occupation, it’s a no-brainer to buckle up your child (and yourself) every time you get in the car. "Historically, we've encountered that attitude before with adults (and seat belts)," says Julie Kleinert, a child safety specialist at General Motors. "People think that if they're not going very far, they don't need to wear their seat belt. I think we need to get the message out to people that they're at risk whether going a short distance or a long distance."

The June national online survey of 1,002 parents and caregivers of children ages 10 and under has a 3.1% margin of error, Safe Kids say.

So parents buckle up for safety! It only takes a few minutes for a simple trip to the store to turn into a life ending tragedy. No matter the distance make sure your child is securely buckled-up. 

Source: Larry Copeland,