At some level, most adult drivers and passengers understand that there is a risk of an accident every time they get into the car. But what about young children? They might not understand that risk, so it is up to their parents or guardians to ensure that they are safe inside their vehicle.
Here are some tips parents can review to help improve their child’s safety:
1. Find the right car seat
The best thing that parents can do to protect their young children in the event of a car accident is to choose the proper car seat that fits their child. Finding the proper car seat usually depends on three factors:
- The child’s age
- The child’s height and weight
- The vehicle’s model
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a helpful age guide to help parents determine which car seat works for their child. As children age and grow, it will be critical for parents to adjust the seat and restraints as well to comply with Maryland’s child safety restraint laws (Maryland Code, Transportation § 22-412.2).
However, more important than finding a car seat is securing the child properly in the seat itself. Parents must follow the directions included with the car seat to ensure maximum safety.
2. Understand the safety measures included in your vehicle
Many vehicles also include specific safety measures for child passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiled an extensive summary of these features for many car models that parents can review.
3. Keep children in the back seat until they are old enough
Children might look forward to the day they can sit in the front seat. However, the front seat can be extremely dangerous for young passengers in the event of an accident. Children are often not tall enough or heavy enough to handle the impact of an airbag.
Therefore, children should remain in the back seats of the vehicle until they are at least 12-years-old, but that also depends on their stage of development.
4. Reduce your distraction by giving kids something to do
There is no denying that distracted driving is dangerous. And one of the most common distractions that parents face behind the wheel is their own children. They might try to calm crying children or keep them entertained, but that only puts children and parents at more risk of a devastating car accident.
Parents can provide educational activities, such as games, puzzles or even television shows and music that can amuse their children while they focus on driving safely.