Ever wonder why hospitals like to inspect an infant car seat before newborn babies leave for home? The facts below are compelling. (Sunglasses optional.)
We love cars. But surprisingly, motor vehicles are also far and away the top cause of unnatural death for those under 19-years old. Whether behind the wheel or riding as a passenger, following these nine guidelines (and noting the abundance of supporting evidence to confirm why you should) will go a long way toward ensuring your precious cargo’s safety.
- Buckle Up!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than a third of kids killed in car accidents died as a result of not using seatbelts. This is a sobering reminder that far too many adults are failing to enforce a strict “buckle up” policy with their children. Unrestrained passengers are more likely to be ejected from the vehicle in the event of an accident, and that increases likelihood of serious injury. So while it may seem obvious, buckle your seatbelt, and don’t move the car unless all passengers do the same. Seatbelts matter. Every single trip.
Drivers, like it or not, you’re a role model, says the NHTSA. Kids in cars whose drivers buckle up wear their seatbelts 95% of the time. When drivers are unrestrained, one third of kids follow suit and are left vulnerable.
- Sit ‘Em in the Correct Spot
The NHTSA recommends kids sit in the back seat until they reach age 13. Yes, this is a nuisance. But we bet you didn’t know that kids in the backseat are 38% less likely to be injured in a crash. That’s enough to scare us into keeping our kiddos in back.
Guess who’s got the best seat in the house? The kid sitting in the middle of the back seat, who’ll be 25% safer than those with window seats, as long as it has a three-point seatbelt.
- Make Sure Kids Are Using the Correct Seat
We appreciate the occasional desire, especially with very little ones, to pull a Britney Spears and pop the kids in your lap for quick trips. But car seats make a difference. Don’t believe us?
- According to SafeKids.org, correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
- The CDC notes that 4-8-year olds who use booster seats decrease their risk of serious injury by 45% when compared with seat belt use alone.
- Never, Ever Leave a Child Alone in the Car
Here’s a chilling fact about hot cars from SaferCar.gov: on a 60-degree day, your car’s interior can heat up to 110 degrees. A child dies when his temp hits 107.
Think you can just pop into the store for a minute? A car’s temp increases by 20 degrees in just ten minutes. If you see a child left alone in a car, don’t wait before intervening – your prompt help could save a life.
- Novice Drivers Must Beware of the Multiplier Effect
Novice drivers carrying passengers are at a much greater risk, warns AOL Autos. Drivers aged 15-17 are eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash when they’re carrying passengers than drivers aged 18-24. Novice drivers’ liability could be blamed on everything from texting to an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. But the fact remains, so be mindful of who, and how many, are in your teen’s car.
- Walking? Face the Traffic.
As a rule, parents should teach their children to always use the sidewalk when outdoors playing or walking to their friends’ homes. Unfortunately, not every neighborhood in the country is lined with sidewalks, putting children at risk of being struck by passing cars. In those situations, the safest course of action is to walk at the edge of the road while facing traffic. This enables your child to spot hazards ahead of time, and move to safety. This advice goes for adults just as it does for kids - but considering your younglings may not be as schooled in all areas of avoiding physical risk, it’s an imperative lesson to teach them. For more safe walking tips to share with your children, read this.
- Impart good bicycling skills.
With hundreds of reported deaths per year among children, bicycling is one of the most dangerous “fun” activities. You don’t have to take your child’s bike away from them in order to assure their safety. Enforcing key rules that will serve to save their hides and teach them a few lessons about self-responsibility. Chief among these: always wear protective gear. Helmets with chin straps can greatly reduce the risk of head injury up 85%. Whenever possible, children should ride on bike paths or sidewalks. And it’s never OK to wear headphones or use a cell phone while riding.
- Look both ways before you cross.
One of the greatest dangers children face while out and about comes from pedestrian accidents involving moving vehicles. And this isn’t just for young kids who are new to negotiating traffic – 40% of teens say they’ve been hit or nearly hit while walking. Kids should be taught never to cross through active traffic, to use crosswalks, and to walk, rather than run, across streets. This gives them the ability to better see vehicles headed their way and also makes them more visible to drivers.
- Ensure your own car is in good condition.
Broken mirrors, airbag-warning lights, worn tires with bubbles, and faulty brakes are just a few signs that your vehicle may be unsafe for you, your passengers, and pedestrians. Be sure to follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and use an app like Openbay that will remove the burden of comparison shopping for and booking vehicle repairs local.
Do you have any additional suggestions for keeping kids safe from traffic-related accidents? Have any stories to share or wisdom to impart? We’d love to hear it. Leave your comments in the box below, and we wish you and your younger passengers the safest journey!
Image credit: Bradley Gordon, Flickr