No one expects to be in a car accident, especially when children are in the vehicle. The good news is that children are much safer in the car than they used to be, as vehicles are made with more safety features and products improve. It’s still important to remember to keep children safe while riding in the car to minimize the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
5 Tips: Car Accident Safety for Kids
One child is too many to suffer through injury after a car accident. Follow these 5 tips for keeping a child safe in your car.
#1: Rightsize your child and the car seat or booster.
Car seat laws vary by state. While it’s always important to follow the law, it's even more critical to make sure your child is in the correct car seat style based on their age, weight, and height. Just because your child reaches a certain age it may not mean that they should graduate to the next type, for instance, from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat. Make sure to follow the CDC recommendations and check the manufacturer’s installation instructions and seat height and weights limits to understand if you’re using the correct type.
Use a booster seat until your child is old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children use booster seats until the car’s lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly -- the lap belt lays against thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays against the chest (not the neck). This is often when they have reached at least 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old. New Jersey law does not require a car seat or booster after age 8 but that does not mean your child doesn’t need one.
#2: Get your car seat inspected
Certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians are available in every state. These trained professionals can teach you how to install the car seat correctly and/or inspect your own installation to ensure it’s correct and safe. Safe Kids Worldwide offers a listing of where to find a CPS technician and tips before you go.
#3: Keep kids in the backseat
The safest place for children to sit is in the middle of the back seat. Air bags are designed for adult use and can be too much of an impactful force for a child, which is why the backseat is recommended for kids. Never put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a car with passenger-side airbags. And, if a child does have to sit in the front seat, push the seat as far back as possible.
#4: Don’t leave your child unattended in the car.
Children left alone in the car are at risk for injury, dehydration, abduction and even death. Don’t leave your child in a car unattended, not even for a minute and not even with the air conditioning running. Children can unbuckle seat belts and accidentally set the car in motion or get caught in an automatically closing window.
#5: Wear a seatbelt. Set a good example.
When adults, parents and guardians buckle up in the car, kids will follow. Make sure to always wear a seatbelt, even on a short trip and even if you’re in the backseat.
Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law
The top-rated attorneys of Brandon J. Broderick represent victims and their families pursuing fair compensation for the injuries from the at-fault party. If your child has been injured in an accident due to negligence, we can help. Our focus is on compassionate client care while aggressively negotiating your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.