Small children can add an element of surprise and delight to nearly every situation, but their surprises can be a shade less delightful in and around your car. Driving safely with small children involves paying acute attention to their every move to keep surprises at a minimum and safety at a maximum. A few dos and don’ts can help.
Don’t put kids in the front seat or on your lap.
No matter how secure your child may appear in the front of the vehicle, the front seat and its air bags were designed for adults. Small children are not large enough to handle the impact without injury.
Do get the right car seat,
which may need updating as your child grows. Car seats are the safest way for small children to travel until the seat belts fit them properly. Expect to update your car seats regularly as your child outgrows the old one, a small investment for a big peace of mind.
Do teach proper seat belt use,
and only use when kids are big enough. Depending on how quickly they grow, it’s not unusual for children to need a car seat until they are between the ages of 8 and 12, Parents Central says. When they are big enough for seat belts, review and spot-check proper use to ensure proper restraint and avoid strange entanglements.
Don’t leave your kids in the car unattended
for any reason for any length of time, especially with keys in ignition. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but every summer seems to come with reports of children locked in a hot car. A vehicle’s interior temperature can soar dramatically, especially in the sizzling sun. Other dangers of children left unattended can include accidentally disengaging the parking brake on an incline or starting the ignition and rolling on down the road.
Don’t ignore poor or distracting behavior.
Teach proper car etiquette and make sure you enforce it. The car should have its own set of rules that include no screaming, fighting, pushing, punching or hair pulling. Explain how the driver needs to look at the road and not the pretty picture your child wants you to see. Pull over the side of the road to review the rules if necessary.