From Car Seats to Behind the Wheel – Keeping Kids Safe

Parenting is subjective. We often wonder if we’re making the right choices, allowing the right amount of freedoms, being consistent enough, plain and simple, raising good kids.

There are no clear guidelines, except one.

Safety trumps everything else when it comes to situations that put a child at risk for injury or, worse, death. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of child and adolescent death. So in the car, the choice is easy. There’s one question to ask, is this safe? It’s the parent’s responsibility. Their lives are in our hands and we had better do the best we can. And if we don’t know, find out.

There are plenty of resources for educating ourselves on the facts and best practices of the car seat world. And this doesn’t just start when the child is born. It starts at conception. There are practices that expecting moms can utilize that will make driving during pregnancy safer for her and the unborn baby. This really adds another stage to the typical four stages of car seats.
After pregnancy that baby is born and you have roughly 10 to 12 years of child restraints ahead of you. There’s a good bit of information to learn. It’s not enough to buy the right car seat (What is the right car seat? The one that fits your child, fits your car and you can install correctly EVERY time.) You need to learn best practices and how to install a car seat correctly. Learn about each stage from rear facing to seat belt positioning (RideSafer vest or booster seat).
During this time, your child will learn to ride a bike and will be walking places. So it’s important to teach your children about how to be safe doing these activities. Always insist on wearing bike helmets and show your child hand signals for biking. Teach your children how to cross streets and be aware of traffic around them.
And as they get older, they’ll be driving themselves. Scary thought, isn’t it? Here are some teen driving tips:
  • Follow your state’s Graduated Driver Licensing provisions.  These provisions protect newly licensed teen drivers by keeping them out of high-risk driving situations (like distracted driving by limited the number of peers they can have with them and banning cell phone use while driving) until they have gained driving experience in lower-risk conditions.
  • Lead by example. Wear your seat belt for every trip, refrain from cell phone use while driving and follow other traffic rules like the speed limit.
  • Control the keys. When your teen has to ask you to have the car, it creates opportunities to constructively remind him to buckle up and to refrain from cell phone use while driving. Your teen also is incentivized to share where she’s going, who she’ll be with and when she will be back. (Plus, studies show teens drive safer when it’s someone else’s car.)
  • Continue to being in the car when your teen is driving.
  • Be the scapegoat. Be the reason your teen says “no” or leaves a dangerous situation. Discuss what these situations might be, for instance a party with drinking.

The best way to have a safe teen driver who buckles up is to be a safe driver who buckles up and doesn’t participate in distracted driving.

Keeping your kids safe is your most important job as a parent and driving is the most dangerous activity they engage in. So from conception forward, be safe and teach safe in the car.

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