Becoming a new parent is not easy, with many reporting that they are terrified by the prospect of raising their children in a world that presents many dangers. While the subjects of major news stories like COVID-19 may be at the forefront of many parents’ minds at the moment, the fact is that a lot of biggest risk factors parents must consider are much closer to home.
Even once a parent feels as if they have the safest homes possible, there are still precautions that they can take outside the house as they prepare for their children. Or, for that matter, make changes to accommodate children already present. It’s never too late for parents to take steps to ensure that their children are as safe as possible. Perhaps one of the most surprisingly risky places wherein children can either be hurt or hurt themselves is within the family car.
Even if parents buy cars that are seemingly perfect for children, there might still be changes that need to be made to ensure that safety. Fortunately, these changes are not difficult, as long as parents know how to make them ahead of time. It’s estimated that accidents involving cars, trucks, and motorcycles are the number one cause of personal injuries within the U.S., meaning that parents must take these precautions seriously.
Below are five that they must attend to as soon as possible, or whenever necessary.
1. The Right Car Seats
Car seats are not inexpensive, which leads a lot of parents to buy them secondhand. There are certainly legitimate channels through which car seats can be bought secondhand, either refurbished or like new and carefully inspected by the seller. These types of markets ensure that not only are the buyers not being misled, paying more than the car seat is worth; they’re also buying a car seat that is safe and fully functional. With that being said, a lot of used car seats, even if perfectly intact, are sold as out of date models.
This means that they are not suited to the current standards recommended by experts. For example, a lot of older car seats may not have the harnesses correctly placed, or may not have the shock absorbers that the newest models would be expected to offer. This is why it’s important to not only buy the latest versions of car seats, but to buy them new. Furthermore, car seats are designated by age. It’s crucial to find a car seat that suits a child’s specific age, down to the month if they are infants.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, there were 1,171 serious injuries across the state that were caused by an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle between 2015 and 2017 alone. This emphasizes the reality that car accidents can happen at any point in time, even when professional drivers are involved. Therefore, a good car seat is extremely necessary.
2. Be On Alert During the Holidays
It’s important to be an aware, ready, and reactive driver at all times, particularly when children are in the backseat. However, drivers with children must be particularly aware during the holidays. Many parents take their children with them when traveling to various holiday parties or events. However, it may be a better idea to stay at home; and if that is not possible, to be extremely aware of a higher frequency of accidents.
This is because a lot of people become inebriated at holiday parties. Furthermore, the frequency of these parties and events means that more people are on the road. This leads to a higher likelihood of car accidents. Both Esurance and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report that the Fourth of July is the number one most dangerous day of the year when it comes to fatal car crashes. Driving during any holiday is always a risk, and drivers should react accordingly.
3. Don’t Allow Children in the Front Seat Prematurely
Parents with older children may be used to hearing requests to sit in the front passenger seat beside them, and understandably so. While children age out of car seats when they’re young, they may quickly grow tired of sitting in the back seats. They may feel more adult when they sit in the front seat, and may want to sit beside their parents where they can get a better view. However, there are certain risks to sitting in the front passenger seat.
For one thing, if the seat belt fails or is improperly buckled there is more of a risk of the person in the front passenger seat being thrown through the windshield. For another, the airbag in the front passenger seat may deploy so forcefully that a small child in the front passenger seat could be hurt or even killed. Therefore, parents must follow the general advice of experts and prohibit their children from sitting in the front seat until they are 12 years old or older.
4. Be Strict About Seatbelts
Another issue that parents may discover with young children is convincing them to use both their lap and shoulder seatbelts. While seatbelts have become generally accepted as a necessity for children and adults alike, older children may not want to wear their shoulder seatbelts as they wear their lap seatbelts. These are incredibly important for children, however, even more so as they grow older. While very young children may be held in place securely by lap seatbelts, children who are eight years old or older must also be secured by shoulder seatbelts. Otherwise, they may pitch forward during a car crash.
5. Stay Calm and Avoid Distractions
It can be easy for parents to become distracted by their children as they’re driving. A lot of parents put movies on their television monitors, the noise of which might distract them as they’re driving. Parents who find themselves easily distracted should avoid them, and for that matter should practice driving in a very calm, alert manner as their children are in their car. While it can be easy to get distracted by children, distracted driving is one of the chief causes of car accidents.
Driving with children is always nerve-wracking, simply because there are vulnerable people within the car. However, the more parents practice proper precautions the easier it will become for them.