Keeping children safe in the car is a heavy responsibility. Technology has done its part, but applying it is up you. Kids' behavior isn’t always predictable and exceptions occur, but with a little research and a change in your approach to vehicle seating and safety, the risk of harm can be significantly reduced. Here are three essential tips for keeping your children safe in the car.
Choose the Right Car Seat
Car accidents remain a leading cause of death for kids through age 13 despite rapidly evolving protective seating. Seats should be changed to reflect growth and for older kids who exceed booster seat limits, accessories such as seat belt adjusters can be used to size adult belts down to a proper child-size fit. A final caution is to check all new or preowned seats against the NHTSA Child Seat Recall Campaign Listing before putting them in use and consider buying new if possible to take advantage of the latest safety advances. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car seat is only protective if it’s the correct size and fits properly in a vehicle.
In the tragic circumstances of a wrongful death from a car accident it's essential to understand how it occurred and what could have been done to prevent it. Many times it can be linked to defective safety products, improper usage of a product, or neglect of another driver. Some things you can control, and some you can't, but that shouldn't stop you from doing everything you can to protect your kids."
Make Double-Checks the Rule, Not the Exception
Humans make mistakes, and kids do unpredictable things to foil even the best safety measures, but establishing a routine to double-check what matters most reduces some risks.
- Before putting the car in gear, check to make sure all passengers are accounted for and safely buckled in. Listen for engagement of child-safety door locks.
- Before leaving a vehicle unattended, make it a policy to check the back seat. Exhausted parents can and do forget sleeping children.
- Lock the doors when exiting. Cars are tempting for kids, and unlocked doors can turn a vehicle into a trap for a small child trying to retrieve a toy or play hide-and-go-seek.
Prime Children For Safety
Teach children how to stay safe without your supervision. Parents should introduce proper buckling techniques and encourage their children to use seat belts correctly to form a lifetime of good habits. Teach them to hear the click of the belt lock engaging and to never remove the belt while the car is in motion. According to car seat safety experts, once the child reaches six years old, parents should introduce proper buckling techniques and encourage their children to use seat belts correctly. And if you know that your child is fussy with car seats, don’t give in to any temptation to take them out of it. Instead, give them a toy to appease them, but make it clear that they will be staying in the seat for the entirety of the ride.
Of course, it's best if you never have to test the safety of your car seats and seatbelts. When you're on the road, drive smart and drive safe. Avoid distractions at all costs. There are 3 types of distraction: 1) Visual, which is looking at something other than the road, 2) Manual, which is using hands for doing something other than driving, and 3) Cognitive, or thinking about something other than driving. If your children absolutely must have your attention when you are driving, pull over to solve the problem, then continue. And of course, under no circumstances should you look at your phone while driving. You are responsible for the lives inside your car.
Accidents happen every day, but reducing risks whenever possible will hopefully prevent them from happening to you. So, choose the right car seat, make double-checks a priority, and teach children important car safety habits from day one for a lifetime of safe travel.
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