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KNOXVILLE – Tennessee is one of 18 states to receive a grade of “D” from the National Safe Kids Campaign-s report card of child safety laws for vehicles around the United States.

A University of Tennessee industrial engineer said the report accurately portrays the different sets of laws found around the country.

“It-s obviously a report intended to grab everyone-s attention,” said Dr. Tyler Kress, who has published studies on the effectiveness of helmets and automotive airbags. “I think the finding that stands out is the fact that most states, by and large, do not have child restraint laws that are considered adequate to care for our kids.”

California is the only state to receive an “A” grade. Kress says one reason is because California requires children to be fitted with size-specific restraining devices, which provide more protection in the event of a crash.

“In some states, children are legally allowed to ride completely unrestrained,” Kress said, which contributed to the overall low grades by the states. Grades of “F” were given to 24 states, in addition to the 18 states to receive a “D.”

Kress said parents in Tennessee could improve the safety of their own children by purchasing child restraint seats and learning how to install and use them correctly.

The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration says about 1,800 children under age 14 die in motor vehicle crashes each year. More than 274,000 are injured.

The report card can be viewed at www.safekids.org.