Keeping Children Safe When They Are Riding in Your Car or Truck

Posted On January 15, 2023 Children

Since car accidents are an everyday occurrence, parents are rightfully concerned about protecting children during travel. Here are a few tips on how to keep children safe when they are riding in your car or truck.

Choosing the Right Seat

If you have an infant or toddler, choosing the right car seat and installing it correctly are critical. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and watch a how-to video online if you need to. You can also have car seats inspected by an expert for free through the NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Child Car Seat Inspection Station program.

When choosing a car seat, keep in mind that under Washington law, children under the age of 8 who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must use a child restraint system that complies with the United States Department of Transportation’s standards. Those guidelines are as follows:

  • Babies and children under 2 must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat.
  • Children between 2 to 4 must ride in a car seat with a harness (rear or forward facing) or until reaching the manufacturer’s weight or height limits.
  • Children 4 and older can ride in a booster seat until they are 4’9” tall.

In addition, use child safety locks, if your vehicle has them, to prevent the rear doors or windows from opening while the car is moving.

Keep Children in the Back of Your Vehicle

All children must be seated securely in the back seat of all vehicles. It is a far safer area if a crash were to happen since it is away from the front airbags. The deployment force of airbags can severely injure a child or even prove fatal. If you absolutely must have children in the front, for example, in a single cab truck, deactivate the airbags if possible.

How Should a Seat Belt Look

Once a child is old enough to be in a booster seat with an adult belt or using an adult belt on its own, the shoulder belt should run across the center of the chest. While the lap portion should lie snugly across a child’s hips. It should not be loose; if the seat belt does not lay correctly, your child is likely not ready for an adult seat belt.

Safety Features to Keep in Mind When Buying a Car or Truck

If you are considering buying a new car or truck, here are a few things to consider when you have children:

Vehicle size

Start by figuring out what size vehicle you need, how many seats, spots for car seats, and whether it has adjustable shoulder belts in the rear seats, a shoulder belt in the center seat, and how many lower latch anchors and tethers. Not all vehicles are created equal when it comes to car seat capacity. Try out installing your car seats in the vehicle before making your decision to make sure they fit.

Rear-Door Child Safety Locks

Children are little explorers and will inevitably push every button on the door they sit next to, as well as the opening handle. Child safety locks are standard, but some cars offer complete individual control from the driver’s seat.

Anti-Pinch Windows and Tailgates

Many newer cars have sensors in their power windows and tailgate systems to help avoid a tiny hand or head from getting pinched.

Passenger-Monitoring Devices

New vehicles also offer cameras installed in the headliner, allowing parents to check a live feed of the second or third-row occupants.

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