The last week of September has been designated as National Child Passenger Safety week in the United States. While we should always be aware of and using safety precautions with children in vehicles, this time of year is excellent to review and be sure you are adhering to the current laws safety measures that are put in place.
With school already in full swing for the year, car pools have begun, and kids may be catching rides from friends’ parents, babysitters, nannies, and more. It is important for you to know who your children are riding with and what the current laws are for when you give rides to other people’s children.
According to the CDC, the leading cause of death among children in the United States is from motor vehicle injuries. This is a terrifying statistic for parents to see but many of these deaths are preventable. For instance, out of the children 12 years and under that died in car crashes in 2015, 35% were not buckled. These statistics really drive home the fact that using the appropriate restraints for children riding in motor vehicles is crucial in keeping them safe from harm.
Brief Overview: Passenger Safety And Car Seat Laws
When talking about child passenger safety there are several areas in which one can focus including car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. So let’s begin with some of the most vulnerable passengers: babies. All babies should be securely riding in a car seat when inside of motor vehicle. It is extremely important that car seats are utilized correctly to ensure that the baby is as safe as possible. If you need a reminder to check your child’s seat, the perfect day to do so is September 29 which is designated National Seat Check Saturday. Here are a few things to keep in mind when your child rides along with you.
- From birth until age 2 children should be buckled into a rear-facing car seat. (Or until they reach the height and weight limit of the seat)
- From age 2-5 years of age, or when the child has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, the child should be riding in a forward-facing car seat.
- From age 5 and up until a seat belt fits the child properly the child should be buckled up in a booster seat. A child should be 57 inches tall to properly fit into a seat belt without a booster seat.
- Children 12 and under should always ride in the backseat of the car because a deployed airbag is a hazard to them rather than a protection.
Child Safety With Other Drivers
As a busy parent you are not able to be with your child 24/7 and you want to know that your child is in good hands. There are certain precautionary steps and considerations you can take to ensure that anyone who drives your child is responsible and knowledgeable regarding child passenger safety. On the other hand, if you are a nanny, carpool driver, or someone who frequently provides transportation for child passengers be prepared to provide certain information to other parents and guardians to ease their minds. Here are some tips for items to check.
- Driving Records. Be sure that there are no major infractions on an individual’s driving record such as a DUI or reckless driving charge.
- Proof of Insurance. Sadly, many people will drive without insurance, so you shouldn’t make the assumption that someone is insured simply because they own a car or drive.
- Car Maintenance Records. Be sure that the vehicle is up to date on inspection. Are there any issues such as low tread on the tires or maintenance alerts light up on the dash?
- Ask Questions. Ask the driver what their driving habits are and make it known that you do not want certain distractions present while your child is a passenger in the vehicle. One behavior that is a frequent distraction is cell phone usage.
We all know that accidents happen and hopefully they will not occur with your child present in the vehicle. Yet, you can give yourself some peace of mind by following these tips and ensuring that your child is as safe as possible in the event of an unfortunate accident.