Nearly 1.3 million people die in car crashes each year, an average of 3,287 deaths per day. That may be hard to believe, but it’s true — sometimes you can’t even flip through radio stations without catching a traffic report listing several accidents that just happened.
You may feel nervous when you think about driving around with your kids in the car — or the day when your teenager takes the wheel. Keep in mind that children live what they learn, so it is never too early to start teaching passenger safety. Adhering to the following rules is the best way to ensure your child’s safety whether or not you’re the one driving.
- Wear a seatbelt during every car trip. Fasten it before the car is even in motion and keep it on until the end of the trip.
- Use all seatbelts. Most cars have lap and shoulder belts that buckle as a unit, but some have two separate belts, one lap and one shoulder. Some have a lap belt only. Teach your kids to look for and secure every belt. Also teach them not to tuck the belt under their armpit, even if they think it is more comfortable that way. Doing so makes the belt less effective in a crash.
- Never share seatbelts. It might seem like fun, but two kids should never buckle up as a pair.
- Sit in the back seat. Kids under age 12 should always ride in the back seat. This protects them from possible injury when a passenger-side air bag deploys. Explain that air bags can seriously hurt young children because they are designed to protect a person with a much bigger body.
- Be sure your little one is in the proper size car seat: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing safety seats for children age 2 and younger. In Kentucky, children must use a booster seat until they are 57 inches tall or 8 years old.
- Play it cool. Kids should understand the importance of staying calm and low-key in the back seat. If they are jumping around or yelling, it can distract the driver and put all the passengers at risk.
- Follow the rules in every car. Kids need to follow the rules if they are in a friend’s or relative’s car, even if other passengers don’t follow the rules. If asked to sit in the front seat of someone else’s car, your child should politely decline the offer and tell the driver that he or she would prefer to sit in the back seat.
If you have any questions on car safety, or want to make an appointment for a car seat check, call the Children’s Hospital Foundation Office of Child Advocacy of Norton Children’s Hospital at (502) 629-7358.