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The road can be a dangerous place, and whenever children are in your car you want be sure that you create the safest possible environment for them and yourself. Children are more vulnerable in accidents, they’re smaller, they play and wiggle in their seats and can sometimes be difficult to keep an eye on. For these reasons, it’s always important to drive wisely and follow the recommended vehicle safety rules.

Car Seats

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 602 children under the age of 12 died as motor vehicle passengers in 2014, 34% of which were either not wearing seatbelts or were not buckled into car seats. Children should be in car seats until age 7, and should continue in booster seats until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt safely and properly. The site says that babies should be in rear-facing car seats from birth until they reach 1 year of age, at the least. Recently, rear-facing car seats have been recommended until children are nearly 2-3 years old, or they reach the limit on the car seat manufacturer’s recommended weight and height limit. Forward-facing car seats should be used until children are about 7 years old, or until they reach the seat manufacturer’s size limits.

Once they’ve outgrown car seats, children should use a belt-positioning booster to ensure their seatbelt fits them properly. When children reach 4 feet 9 inches, typically 8-12 years old, they should fit seat belts properly without the use of a booster seat. Remember, the back seat of a vehicle is safer than the front, and children should ride in the back until they are 13 years old. If you are ever unsure about the type of car seat you are using or the proper installation, visit theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Passenger Safety

Children certainly have a way of making messes, being rowdy, and generally causing mayhem, but making sure they understand how to be safe in a car can make all the difference. Teach children not to distract the driver unless it is an emergency. You can even make this a “game” by creating incentives if your children or other child passengers behave well.

Always make sure the vehicle is locked when it is moving, and that your vehicle has a child lock on windows and doors to prevent any accidents. If your car does not have a child lock, make sure kids know that these buttons are off-limits.

Never leave a child alone in a car. Whether the weather is mild, hot, cold, if the car is running or off, no matter the circumstances, children should never be left alone in a vehicle without an adult. Make sure your children are aware of this rule as well. This way, even if they are driving with a family member or trusted friend, they always know the proper rules to ensure their own safety, even if you aren’t around to enforce it.

Be an Example

Children can be keen observers when they want to be, and they can sometimes pick up our smallest habits. When you are driving, make sure you remember you have little eyes watching you. Always buckle up. Respect traffic signs. Be alert and aware of any road changes or poor conditions. Listen for sirens and keep an eye out for emergency vehicles. Abide by designated speed limits. Never drive while under the influence, and make sure your children know they should never get into a car with an impaired driver.

If you practice safe driving habits, instill them in your children, and make sure any children in your vehicle are properly buckled and prepared at the beginning of each drive, you’ll be doing yourself and other drivers a great favor.

If you or someone you know is in an auto accident, please contact Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC today.

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