Kids and cars can be pretty scary sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple things that you can do to keep your child safe when they are in or around cars. Check out these child car safety tips that could save your child’s life.
I have five kids and I’m constantly worried about them when we’re around cars. Plus, I have to be super careful when I have a baby in a car seat. Hot car deaths are all too common around the world. So, let’s get started on some car safety tips to keep you and your kids safe.
Child safety while in the car
- Cell phone tax: Tell your kids that you owe them $1 every time they see you looking at your phone while you are driving so everyone can have a safe ride. Be a good example.
- Seatbelts: Don’t start driving until seatbelts are all on. They are the best possible protection. Make sure it runs over your child’s shoulder and sits above the upper thighs.
- Double buckling: It’s tempting to buckle two kids in a lap belt, but a child restraint isn’t meant for two. A seat belt fits only one person and lowers the risk of injury and risk of death.
- Front seat riders: Safety advocates recommend kids under 13 years of age ride in the back seat but if you must, push the seat as far back as possible to avoid contact with the air bags. Child passengers should sit in the back.
- Shoulder belt pads: If kids are constantly putting the shoulder belt behind them, buy a shoulder belt pad so it’s more comfortable.
- What about buses?: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are designed so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features. So, just tell you child to stay seated on the bus. No running around.
- Tires: A best practice is to keep your tires rotated and in good working condition. In 2021, there were 622 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in tire-related crashes.
- Cell phone mount: Another good way to not get distracted by your phone while driving is to install a cell phone mount.
- No riding in the bed of a truck: In the event of a crash, everyone will be thrown out. It’s just unsafe to ride in the back of pickup trucks and you could avoid serious injury. As a vehicle owner, this is your responsibility.
- Buckle Booster: Make it super easy for your kids to put on their seatbelts with a Buckle Booster. They don’t have to dig to find a buried buckle. Then they have no excuse.
- Motorhomes: Every state has different laws for child and adult passengers in motorhomes. They are different from passenger vehicles. However, as inconvenient as it is, if you want your kids to be safe, it’s best to buckle them while in your motorhome.
- Honk the horn: Teach your older kids that it’s okay to honk the horn until someone come to help if they get stuck in the car.
- Distractions: If your baby is screaming and your toddlers are fighting, either ignore it or pull over. Don’t try to drive with one hand and parent with the other. This alone will prevent car crashes.
- Sleepy driver: If you’re tired, pull over and take a 10-minute nap. I have done this several times with five kids sitting in the back seat. Their safety is more important.
- Child locks: Make sure you lock your power windows and turn on the child lock so your kids can open the doors while you’re driving.
Car seat safety for kids
- Know the car seat age requirements height limits: There are three different type of car seats, rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat and a booster seat. Choose which is best for your young children and older children based on the illustration below.
- Car seat expiration dates: A child safety seat expires because the parts and materials used to keep your child safe gradually weaken or wear down after constant use and because of exposure to heat and cold. Check your car seat manual for details. Avoid buying a used car seat.
- Choose the right car seat: If ease and convenience will motivate you to have a safe car seat for your babies and toddlers, they sell all-in-one convertible seat that grows and adjust with your kids.
- Install your car seat correctly: You’d be surprised how many people do this wrong. Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics for details. Make sure the clip is at armpit level.
- Get your car seat checked: You can have a certified child passenger safety technician check your car seat to ensure proper installation.
- Newborns: If you have a newborn, as new parents, I would recommend not driving with them anywhere unless you have to. They cannot support their heads and you can’t hold their head while you drive. If you have to, try using some car seat support pads and have someone sit in the back seat.
- Child head support: I always worry about my kids head flopping around when they fall asleep in the car. Child head supports can fix that.
- Hot car death prevention: This can happen to the best of us. So on hot days, put one of your shoes next to your child or baby’s car seat. You won’t walk off with only one shoe on.
- Never leave a child alone in a car: This seems obvious, but sometimes it seems like a hassle to get your baby unbuckled when you’ll be “right back”. Don’t be tempted.
- Safety Car Seat Mirror: Could your child be choking and you don’t even know it? A child safety car seat mirror can help you keep an eye on your child through your rearview mirror while you drive.
Child safety around cars
- Parking Pal Car Magnet: Give your kids a safe place to stand and wait while everyone is getting out of the car. Teach them to put their hand on the magnet, which is the safest place, until everyone is ready to go, then no one gets hit by a car.
- Spot the Tot: In the United States, hundreds of kids have been killed by back over or front over accidents. These deaths and possibly the death of your own child can be prevented by simply walking around your car before you get in it.
- Parking lots: Use the S.T.A.R. method when teaching your kids about parking lot safety: Stop, Touch, Attention, Ready.
- School pick up: I’ll say it again, “Put your cell phone down.” Also, tell your kids not to run to the car as soon as they see you pull up. Your kids need to wait until you are stopped.
- Head count: When you’re on a road trip, believe it or not, it’s easy to forget a child at a gas station. Do a head count every time you get back into the car.
- Parked cars: Don’t ever allow your kids to play in a parked car. Your kids can accidentally put your car into gear and someone could get hurt.
- Car Emergency Kit: You never know when you might get stranded on the side of the road. That’s why a car emergency kit and winter coats could save you and your kids’ lives one day.
- Fixing a flat tire: Show your kids how to fix a flat tire. It’s a skill that could help them throughout their entire lives.
I hope these child car safety tips were helpful for you. And most of all, I hope that one day, it could save some lives. If you have any other car safety tips, leave them in the comments below.
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