Car Safety For Children
Automobile accidents are responsible for the injury or death or thousands of children and young adults each year. Many of these events could be prevented by the proper use of seat belts and other safety features of cars.
Outside of a car, it is important for children to know how dangerous moving vehicles can be. When playing outside, never chase balls or other objects into the street without looking for traffic, and never run between parked cars into the street as it is hard for drivers to see over them. Teaching children these behaviors at a young age is an excellent way to prevent accidents in the future.
In the car, there are a set of effortless rules that new drivers and young passengers should always follow. The way to prevent most serious injuries is to simply always buckle up. Even if no one else in the car is wearing one and the trip is just around the block, it is important to wear one regardless. In a case like this, it wouldn’t hurt to insist that everyone else buckle up as well to ensure their safety.
When wearing a seatbelt, older children should be tall enough to sit without slouching with their feet on the floor. The lap-shoulder belt system will not fit most children until they are about 4’9” tall and weigh about 80 pounds. The lap portion of the belt should fit low and tight across the upper thighs, while the shoulder portion should fit over the shoulder and chest. Although it may be more comfortable, never put the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back of the child.
Reckless behavior in and around automobiles is also a large contributor to the injury and death rate. Never stick arms, legs, or any other body part out of the window of a moving car. If another vehicle is passing too close it could cause serious injury. One of the most dangerous but easily preventable behaviors is drunk driving. Never try to drive after drinking, and never ride with anyone who has been drinking. It is important to always have a designated driver, or at least someone to keep keys hidden.
New and young drivers cause many of the accidents because they may have not yet learned how to handle a car properly, may drive at speeds to fast for the conditions, and are more likely to perform risky behaviors. Although they are commonly given a negative image, being a back-seat driver can save lives by telling a reckless driver to be more attentive or to slow down.
Concerning very young children, there is even more information to be aware of related to accidents and safety. Generally, the back seat is the safest place in a car accident, and any child under 12 years should ride there, especially if the vehicle has a passenger side are a bag. Infants should be placed in rear-facing car seats in the back seat until at least 1 year of age or around 20 lbs. Forward facing seats are acceptable after this point. In either case, always read the child restraint manual for proper and effective installation and use. It is recommended that children use a safety seat until they are at least 40 pounds and then use a booster seat that will help the lap-shoulder system fit well.
It is important to remember that injury or death from an automobile accident can happen to anyone, not just children and younger drivers. Always promote safe behaviors near roads, behind the wheel, and also the lifesaving benefits of using safety belts and child safety seats correctly.