According to the CDC, motor vehicle injuries are one of the leading causes of death for children in the United States. Simply using an age-appropriate seatbelt can make a major difference, but there’s more to keeping kids safe in the car than that.
Hot Cars, Cold Cars
Temperatures can get extreme inside cars. We’re most familiar with the tragedies that happen when children are left in hot cars. However, parked cars in winter can also be dangerous. It’s a good policy to simply never leave a child unattended inside a vehicle.
During winter travel, infants and toddlers should be warmly dressed. But those bulky layers can cause problems with car seats and safety harnesses. Because puffy coats take up so much space, it can be difficult to correctly buckle the kids into their seats. In the event of an accident, they won’t be properly restrained.
The solution? Take off the coats and oversized sweaters in the car and use a blanket while driving. Then put the coats back on when you arrive at your destination. It’s a hassle, but this is a winter safety concern that too many parents overlook.
Respect and Double Check
“Backover” is a simple word for something truly devastating. Kids often dart across driveways or run through parking lots without any caution. That’s why it’s up to the adult drivers to exercise extra caution on their behalf.
You can keep kids safe using two different strategies. The first is to teach your own children about caution and respect around vehicles. Most kids know not to cross the street without looking, but they might not have learned the same lesson about driveways and parking lots.
They should also be taught to keep a safe distance from vehicles that are running and to never leave toys, bikes, and other items near driveways.
As the driver, you need to be mindful every time you pull out onto the street or back out of a parking space. It can be very difficult to see a child who has darted directly behind your car. Roll down your window as you back up so that you can use your sense of hearing. Check your rearview mirrors, side mirrors, and backup camera, if you have one, as you slowly start backing up.
Ideally, kids should understand that cars aren’t just an extension of your living room couch. Many adults could use that reminder as well. Although vehicle safety has come a long way over the decades, cars are still dangerous and need to be respected.