Car Safety for Kids; Basics and Setting a Good Example

There is a lot to consider when it comes to car safety for kids. Teaching kids safety inside the car is just as important as teaching safety concepts out of the car and around the roads.

Author Bio:

This article is a Guest Post, written by Jen Dee from jdpower.com. Jen is passionate about children’s health and safety, with a passion for teaching and helping others understand the safest way to parent and live.

Introduction

Parents with young children were more likely to be distracted while driving than were adults with no small children, according to one survey conducted by The Zebra in March of 2019. While driving with your children in the back seat can present a challenge, teaching them the importance of car safety early on can help them to understand its importance, create a safer experience for the driver, and can even help set the foundation in becoming a safe driver themselves one day.

From teaching the basics to how you and your children can eliminate distractions, here are just a few essential points to keep in mind.

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Teaching the basics

When looking to teach your children about car safety, starting with the basics can make for an ideal introduction to the subject. According to UC San Diego Health, teaching your child about the importance of moving away from a vehicle when it’s started and that the car is not a place to play are just two important points to bring up when raising the awareness of the many dangers involved. Seat belt use is another essential safety point, and is one that can be taught through a simple activity.

Ahhh, now isn’t that a picture of peace! No distractions there, mum!!

Parenthub recommends teaching your child about the importance of the vehicle’s seat belt through the use of a doll or stuffed animal, which will help in demonstrating the proper way to buckle up. By discussing various aspects of seat belt wearing (such as how easy it is for the doll to move when unsecured) you can effectively explain the important role that the seat belt plays. Parenthub further explains how the activity can help in demonstrating the importance of hearing a click when buckling the seat belt and ensuring that the straps are not tangled, to highlight a few points.

While inside the car, it’s also important to ensure the following:

  • The child’s car seat is fitted correctly and all children remain secured in their car seats
  • Booster seats are fitted properly and are appropriate for the age of the child (booster seat meets weight and height limits)
  • Seat belts are in proper working order, any lap belt and/or shoulder belt are positioned correctly on your child, and children cannot undo them
  • Infants are secured in a rear facing car seat
  • The vehicle door is shut and locked
  • Air bags are in good working order
  • A vehicle owner’s manual is kept in the car and consulted if necessary
  • Young children are not seated in the front seat, unless there is no other option

You can read more about Road Safety with Kids in my dedicated article HERE.

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Creating a safe environment

With the advancement of technology, safety can be found in a variety of vehicle features today — from Automatic Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) to Lane Keeping Assist, and even Drowsiness Detection Systems. Regarding electric vehicles (EVs) and the evolution of battery technology, automakers are now working towards making solid-state batteries more prevalent vs. lithium ion batteries. In addition to improved safety, solid-state batteries can reach an 80% charge within just 15 minutes, highlighting the impact that such technology can have on the future of EVs.

However, while technology can help in creating a safer vehicle, drivers shouldn’t rely on it when looking to create a safe environment in the car itself, especially when children are involved.

Looks like it would be noisy.. and where are the properly fitted car seats?!?!

When looking to create a safe environment within the vehicle, minimizing distractions is essential. In addition to putting away the cell phone as the driver, emphasizing the importance of keeping the noise levels down to your children is just one important lesson that can help prevent a distracting environment. Having a strategy in place can help if things get out of hand — while pulling over in the event of rambunctious behavior and calmly explaining the dangers of distracted driving can help in preventing an accident, giving a verbal reminder at the start of the journey, as well as a serious discussion (and even road safety story books) once home, will help convey the seriousness of the matter.

Parenting expert and author Bonnie Harris recommends establishing a noise meter system for your children when driving. Ranging from 0 to 5 (0 equaling silence and 5 being max loudness), explaining the noise meter to your children and using the concept while driving can help in maintaining a safer environment. You can actually try encouraging older children in the car to talk to or entertain younger children, which will give them a sense of responsibility and importance.

The value in setting a good example

In addition to creating a safe vehicle environment, setting a good example can go a long way in teaching your children good car safety. This can be done in a myriad of ways, including keeping your keys out of your child’s reach, never leaving your child in a vehicle alone, always clicking on your vehicle seat belt, and always driving while alert with both hands on the wheel.

Look, I have written about the Dangers of too much screen time, but if it’s balanced, and it means a safer, more peaceful car trip, then hey, there’s minimal harm in my opinion.

Modeling other good habits, from simply making it a point to put your phone away when driving, teaching basic car seat safety, and refraining from road rage are equally as important.

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The University of Michigan Health Blog recommends inviting your children to hold you accountable as a safe driver, such as by teaching them “to offer to do tasks for you and free you up to focus solely on the road.” To further emphasize the value in setting a good example, Enddd.org points out that teens who grow up in a household where parents drive distracted are 2-4 times more likely to also drive distracted, thus highlighting the impact that modeling good safety habits can have.

One of the most important things is to set a good example as a driver – no mobile phone use, no road rage, always wear the seatbelt, 2 hands on the wheel etc.

Conclusion

Driving with your children in the back seat can make for a stressful experience if there is a lot of noise, sibling conflict or tantrums. However, by helping your children to understand the importance of car safety early on, you can create a safer environment within the vehicle as well as set the foundation for safe driving habits later on.

Just don’t forget to ensure the child safety seats are all fitted correctly!

Have you ever felt stressed and/or very distracted when the kids are in the car? It can be so dangerous! Do you have any strategies you have put in place that have helped you, to keep yourself and your child safe? Let me know in the comments below!

This article is a Guest Post, written by Jen Dee from jdpower.com. Jen is passionate about children’s health and safety, with a passion for teaching and helping others understand the safest way to parent and live.

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