How To Keep Children Safe In Cars

May 18, 2011

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Mother-putting-daughter-in-car-seatWhen I first earned my driver's license almost 2 decades ago, I was anxious to get behind the wheel, as most teenagers are. I begged my parents to let me drive, no matter where we were going. I reminded them that I was a responsible honors student who never got in trouble, and then my mom said the most annoying thing to me... "It's not you that we don't trust, it's everyone else."

If I only knew then what I know now! My mom was actually trying to protect me! Let's face it... we've all seen distracted drivers, unrestrained passengers, and near-misses that make us cringe. Despite this, we still get behind the wheel on a daily basis and hope for the best.

Most motor vehicle crashes are preventable, as are the injuries and deaths that result from them. While we can't control other drivers, we can control the steps we take to keep ourselves and our children safe while riding in the car.

When it comes to keeping children safe while traveling, here are some of the top safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Rear-facing is safer than forward-facing — Children should ride in a rear-facing position until they are 2 years old, or until they outgrow the height or weight limit for their car seat. If your child turns 2 before outgrowing the seat limits, keeping him or her in that position is best.
  • Use a 5-point harness for as long as possible — A car seat with a 5-point harness system is the safest option available, whether your child is rear-facing or forward-facing. Keep your child in a 5-point harness system until he or she outgrows the maximum height or weight limits of that harness, before moving into a booster seat.
  • Booster seats may be need until 8-12 years of age — One size does not fit all! Vehicle seat belts are made for adults and do not typically fit a child properly unless he or she is about 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • The back seat is safer than the front seat — Children should ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

The best car seat is one that fits your child, fits your car, and is installed and used correctly every time you go for a drive. Unfortunately, over 90% of the car seats we see at our inspection station sites are not. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't think it would be difficult to correctly select, install, and use a car seats... but after a few attempts, I quickly changed my mind!

Please join me tomorrow for a free webinar to learn more about how you can make sure you are properly securing your children in the appropriate child restraints. To register, go to our Car Seat Safety webinar registration page.

If you are unable to join us for the webinar, but would like to have your car seat checked, please call the Center for Childhood Injury Prevention at (832) 828-1314 to schedule a free appointment.

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