Like any good parent, you love your kids and would do anything to keep them safe. Here are some tips to ensure their safety and yours while driving with them.
1. Make Seat Belts Mandatory
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that seat belt usage was responsible for preventing over 14,000 deaths in 2017. Although you may feel that you are a good and responsible driver, there is no telling what other drivers on the road will do at any given time. Ensuring that your kids stay buckled up helps prevent them from more extreme injury and from becoming a projectile in the event of a crash.
2. Use the Proper Car Seat
Securing your children in the appropriate car seat is required by law and vital to their safety. Your child should be in a rear-facing car seat until they are 3 years old or they exceed the seat’s weight or height capacity. After that, they should be in a forward-facing seat until they once again outgrow it, and then they can move to a booster seat. When your child is big enough to wear a seat belt without a car seat (i.e. the lap portion of the belt crosses their thighs), they will likely no longer need a car seat. Be aware that car seats have expiration dates and ensure you know when your child’s seat expires so you can buy a new one when needed. Additionally, you should register your child’s car seat on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website (nhtsa.gov) so you can be notified in the event of a recall by the manufacturer.
3. Keep Your Kids in the Back Seat
It is highly recommended to drive with your kids in the back seat of your car until at least 13 years of age. This is because if you were to get into a collision in which the front of the car is hit, which unfortunately happens very frequently, your child could be more severely injured by the crash or by the rapidly moving airbag if they are seated in the front passenger seat. Even if your child asks you to allow them to sit in the front seat, firmly tell them “no” and explain that it is not safe for them to do so.
4. Teach Proper Passenger Etiquette
When you hear the phrase “distracted driving”, you may picture someone who is texting or otherwise using their phone while driving. However, distractions can come from a wide variety of sources, and if you have children, you know how distracting they can be. Instruct your child to not make unnecessarily loud or excessive noises during car trips, and to not touch you or kick your seat while you are driving. If you have multiple children that are prone to arguing with each other, perhaps promise a small reward for not arguing in the car, or the removal of a privilege if they do argue. In addition, any electronic device your child is using in the car should be muted or turned to a low volume if you do not have headphones for them to wear or you do not feel comfortable with them wearing headphones.