Child Passenger Safety – Rules And Tips

Child Passenger Safety

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Tying up to ones seat is not a very convenient way to sit while travelling, but is surely the safest. Your child will not like it either, as it curtails his freedom of moving or playing in the car. It is up to you to realize the importance of child safety and arrange for his car seats.

Knowing the rules pertaining to child passenger safety will make your job easy. Read on to know more.

Why Do You Need Child Passenger Safety Rules?

“In my time, we didn’t have such stringent laws, and we did alright” – you’ll hear this refrain from many parents who just fail to understand the need for special child safety rules.

Well, here is some statistics that could change their opinion!

  • Vehicular accidents are the top cause of death among children in the age group of one to 19.
  • Children in the age group of two to five, who use car seats or booster seats, are four times less likely to have head injuries during an accident.

This is just the tip of an iceberg. Statistics about child mortality and injuries in motor accidents is worse (1).

Child passenger safety rules are meant to keep your kid safe.

[ Read: Road Safety Rules For Children ]

What Do The Rules Say?

You know that there are rules pertaining to child safety, but do you know what exactly they say? The rules concerning child passenger safety vary in the different states of the US.

Here is a brief review of the child passenger safety laws of the land (US):

1. Car Seats and Booster Seats:

It is mandatory for children below the age of two to use car seats. Children who have outgrown their car seats but are too young to use regular seat belts need to use booster seats. The law applies to all states except Florida and South Dakota, where it is not mandatory to use booster seats.

2. Rear Facing Car Seats:

It is a law in California, New Jersey, and Oklahoma to put children younger than two years in rear-facing car seats.

3. School Buses:

The law mandates school buses in California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas to have seat belts. The state of Texas requires seat belts only in buses purchased after September 2010.

[ Read: School Bus Safety Rules For Kids ]

4. Punishment:

The fear of injury should be incentive enough for parents to abide by state laws. But to ensure that no child gets hurt due to negligence, the law puts in place some strict punishments. First-time offenders can face a fine of up to $500.

The list of rules regarding child passenger safety is pretty comprehensive (2), leaving no room for ignorance.

How You Can Ensure Your Child’s Safety While Traveling:

Rules are a great way to keep people, including little children, safe. But even if there are no laws, as is the case in many countries around the world, you can ensure that your child is safe while traveling.

Here are some tips for a hassle-free ride:

1. Car Seats:

The most important car accessory that you need to purchase is a car seat.

  • According to experts, it is best to travel with your baby in a rear-facing car seat till he is about two years old. Rear-facing seats offer the best protection against head injuries.
  • Always place the rear-facing car seat in the back seat, away from airbags.
  • When your child is two and has outgrown his rear facing car seat, promote him to a forward facing car seat. Do not keep the car seat close to the airbags.
  • The best place for safety seats, both rear-facing and forward-facing, is in the back seat.
  • Make sure the car seat is fastened correctly. Follow the instructions manual to the T.
  • If your child is larger than average, go for car seats that offer harnesses for elder children.
  • Before you buy a car seat, check the label to ensure that it will work for your baby. Don’t purchase a brand just because it is popular. Do your research.
  • Car seats come with an expiry date. So, don’t forget to check the label before you buy, to make sure that it is still safe to use. Most car seats become unsafe about six years from the date of manufacturing.
  • It is paramount to install your car seat properly. Remember, a properly installed car seat does not nudge beyond an inch when you tug at it. Follow instructions or check out instructional videos to make sure you are doing the car seat thing right.
  • Do not hesitate to consult experts if you are confused about anything.

2. Booster Seats and Seat Belts:

  • Once your child has outgrown his car seat, it is time for a booster seat.
  • Get a booster seat if your little one exceeds the car seat’s weight and height limits.
  • Another good way to determine if your child is ready for a booster seat is to check the car seat’s top harness slots. If your kid’s shoulders go beyond these slots, it is time to move to the next level.
  • Remember, it is good to continue using your car seat with a harness as long as you can, as it offers maximum protection from injuries.
  • If your child is old enough and the regular seat belt fits properly, it is time to say goodbye to the booster seat.
  • How do you know if your child is ready for the seat belt? If the lap belt fits across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest (not the neck), your kid is ready to join and buckle up!

[ Read: Right Time For Kids To Sit In The Front Seat ]

3. Keep The Toys At Home:

Parents need all the ammunition they can get to keep their children occupied while traveling. But when it comes to toys, they are better left at home.

  • If you have to carry toys, carry soft toys.
  • Don’t forget to secure loose toys that can pose a danger during a crash.

4. Set An Example:

The best way to teach kids is through example!

  • Fastening your seat belt should be the first thing you do when you get into your car.
    Make sure that everyone else in the car has their seat belts on.
    Teach your children the right way to buckle up.

5. Avoid Tragedy:

Another important safety measure to remember while traveling is to avoid heat strokes. Many children lose their life when they are left in a car alone in hot weather.

  • Do not leave your baby alone in a car. Remember, the temperature in a closed car can rise quickly and cause heat stroke.
  • In fact, it is against the law to leave your child alone in the car in several US states.

Your children deserve the best possible life, and that includes protection from injuries. As a parent, it is your duty to make sure that your little ones are safe while you travel. Yes, fastening car seats and booster seats can feel cumbersome, especially when you are in a hurry. But a few minutes of delay is nothing when it comes to your child’s safety.

So, learn to enjoy your car rides safely. They may not be as fun as the pre-children days, but they are still precious! When you feel blue, just take a peek at your baby in the back seat – that will bring your mood back on track!

So, does your state or country have strict child passenger safety rules? Tell us more about them!

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