The other day, as I walked back to my car after dropping off my children at school, I noticed a likely 2-year-old child sitting unrestrained in the front seat of an SUV as it pulled away from the curb.

I’d like to say that I was shocked, but, unfortunately, I have seen this too many times before and my wife frequently sees neighborhood carpools engaging in the same risky behavior.

As a pediatrician, I have seen too many patients with severe disability related to being unrestrained passengers. Research has shown that, when moving at only 6 mph, severe brain injury can develop when a head strikes a stationary object (such as a dashboard). At 12 mph, a direct strike to the head becomes likely to cause death.

Even when there is not a direct strike to the head, the relative size of a child’s head combined with weaker musculature makes spinal injury significantly more likely (which is why rear-facing car seats are best).

Having your child unrestrained for a short drive may seem convenient and harmless. However, the risks are truly far more than anyone should tolerate. Please restrain your children while they are in cars.

Benjamin Kalm, M.D., Holladay