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Study: Most kids can unbuckle their seatbelts by age 3

Posted On Mon, May 2, 2011

Moms and dads traveling with their toddler-aged sons and daughters may want to look at their rearview mirror an extra time or two by the time they reach the age of 3. That's because a new study from an Ivy League institution has revealed that that's the age when children are able to unbuckle their seatbelts on their own.

Yale University researchers found that most children were able to free themselves from their car seats by 3 years of age and many of them did this while the vehicle was in motion, increasing their risk for serious injury.

Lilia Reyes, a clinical fellow for the Yale School of Medicine, said kids aren't able to appreciate the consequences of their actions.

"We found that young children might acquire the motor skills to unbuckle from restraints before developing the cognitive ability to understand the necessity of automotive restraints," said Reyes.

Reyes said further research is necessary to determine if other restraint devices would be safer.

Should certain automakers install new restraint devices in cars as a result of this study, it could lead to lower rates. Auto insurance companies sometimes take a car's safety ratings into account when determining premiums. 

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