Keeping kids safe in the car

Jul 10, 2014

This post is sponsored by TAC and Nuffnang

When it comes to the safety and well-being of our children, as parents, most of us would value this above anything. We try to minimise risk as best we can through supervision, education and vigilance, but no matter what, there are always circumstances for potential injury or even death. (Yes, being a parent/carer is the scariest role ever.)

One of the most common ways that children are exposed to potentially dangerous circumstances is in the car. In my state, Victoria (Australia), alone, an average of 13 children under the age of 15 are killed on our roads annually, with more than 400 under the age of 17 requiring hospitilisation. (Stats here and here).  

For us, trips in the car are a very common occurrence. Some days can see me making up to 8 or more short trips here and there in one day, with each of those trips housing the potential of something going wrong. So, how can I best keep my kids safe in the car?



Safety in the car

The amount of deaths and injuries to children has greatly reduced over the years thanks to improved car safety and child safety restraints. It is very important that your child is seated and restrained correctly in the car in order to provide them with the best chance possible if an accident were to occur. There should be no rush to "graduate" your children through the various levels of car restraints as they grow, as these restraints provide extra levels of security for your child. I will be keeping my children in their child restraints for as long as I possibly can. This is one "developmental stage" that I am not willing to rush.

Ways to help ensure your child's safety in the car:
  • Choose a safe car (see more details below under, "How safe is your car?")
  • Choose the correct child restraint for your child's age and size.
  • Have your child seats correctly installed or checked by a professional.
  • Educate children about car and road safety from a young age (see more details under, "Educating children about cars and car safety," below.)
  • Model correct and safe behaviour in and around cars including wearing seatbelts, practicing caution around moving and parked cars, etc.
  • Have children travel in the backseats when ever possible as this is safer for them. It is strongly discouraged for children under the age of 7 to travel in the front seat.
  • Use car child-safety locks so that children cannot exit the car by themselves or open the door while in transit.
  • It is illegal to leave children unattended in the car in all states and territories of Australia. Be aware that cars can heat up very quickly and babies/toddlers have a different temperature regulator to adults.

Resources:


Educating children about cars and car safety

It is important that from a young age, children are taught about car and road safety and how to be safe and sensible in and around cars.

Important safety information for kids:
  • Cars can be dangerous and need to be treated with respect
  • When crossing roads/walking through carparks always hold an adults hand and STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and THINK before you cross the road. 
  • On and beside the road is dangerous and is somewhere that we don't play and always remain vigilant around. We never run onto the road or even step onto the road without checking for safety first.
  • Anywhere that cars drive on has the potential to be dangerous. Encouraging children to play away from these areas or be vigilant is important. These include all driveways.
  • We always wear our seatbelts in the car and sit in seats that fit us best and keep us safe. We do not get our arms out of our seatbelts or climb around in our seats while the car is moving.
  • When driving in the car we need to make sure the driver is not distracted so we don't yell, kick seats or make any sudden loud noises.
  • We are not allowed in the front seats of the car unless under direct supervision by an adult. Climbing around inside the car, touching anything on the driver's side including pedals, hand breaks, etc. can be dangerous and is not allowed.
  • It is safest to get out of the car at the door facing the kerb (passenger side) and away from the traffic.
Photo credit, Playworks

Resources:


How safe is your car?

It was only when I was pregnant with my first child that car safety really became of importance to us. We looked up my current car on howsafeisyourcar.com.au and discovered that its safety wasn't really up to scratch with what was available at that time. I was already carrying around our precious cargo so we decided it would be a good idea to buy a car with a much better safety rating. We decided on a medium sized SUV with a 5 star safety rating for my car (to be the main family car) by using the How Safe is your Car website to look up and compare all the models of cars we were interested in that were in our price range. Thankfully, in the 6 and a half years that I have been driving it, I have never been involved in an accident to test out all the included features, but I can assure you that I am still very glad that they are there.

One feature that is available on many cars these days, that unfortunately my current car doesn't have, is AEB. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), is a safety feature utilising a system of sensors, radar, laser or cameras to monitor for risk and detect potential collisions with other cars, objects or pedestrians. Most systems will alert the driver of the risk with a sound and then will intervene and brake the vehicle automatically if the driver doesn't.

I think that this would provide such a piece of mind. One of my least favourite places to drive is around the carpark and drop off zones of my daughter's school. Whilst parents remain as vigilant as possible, the mix of multiple cars and small children dashing everywhere always worries me, especially when it's raining. The idea that a vehicle could detect a child stepping out in front of them and automatically brake the car for you, sounds excellent. I will definitely be checking for this feature in any future cars that I buy.

Resources:
  • How Safe Is Your Car? This website, by the TAC, provides a car safety ranking, from one star to five stars, for prospective car buyers to reference a car's overall safety. It also includes lists of safety features included on all cars so that you can make an informed decision about your car's level of safety.
  • AEB. More information on Autonomous Emergency Braking.



Safe travels,
Debs :)


{Disclosure: this is a paid post for TAC sponsored by Nuffnang. Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is a Victorian Government-owned organisation that is involved in promoting road safety in Victoria and improving services for Victoria's drivers. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own. Facts mentioned come from the official linked pages.}


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49 comments:

  1. It's such an important thing to discuss and be aware of when it comes to kids in cars. They are so precious. Thanks for sharing those great resources and I'm interested in purchasing those books.

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  2. My four year old saw me reading this and was very interested in all these rules, we had a really good chat about car safety. Thanks for the prompt :)

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  3. This is a really great post. Talking with our kids about car safety is so important. We've talked about the basics (like leaving your seatbelt on lol) but think we might have more of chat though about other things to help keep us safe :)

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  4. Very thorough article - the books look great, will have a hunt for these at the library. My kids know how important this is, but we all get distracted some days and it's great to revisit these conversations. The safety ratings are a very interesting insight.

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  5. Such great advice Debs - car safety is one of my 'not negotiable' areas with my kids. It's so important.

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