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Automobile Safety and Children

Automobile manufacturers are making vehicles safer today than ever before. But even vehicles that are top-rated for safety can be dangerous for children unless you take the necessary precautions. Here is a list of easy things you can do to help protect children from automobile-related injuries.

Car Seats

Always follow safety guidelines for car seats.  Failure to use car seats as directed exposes children to a greater risk of injury.  To minimize danger to your child, follow car seat manufacturers’ instructions along with the rules below.

  • Always put car seats in the back seat of the car. This is the safest position for the car seat and offers the child the most protection.
  • Birth - 12 Months:  Any child under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat for maximum protection.
  • 1 - 3 Years: Keep children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. When a child outgrows the size parameters of the rear-facing car seat, transition to a forward-facing car seat.
  • 4 - 7 Years: Once the child’s height or weight exceeds the forward-facing car seat’s limitations, put him or her in a booster seat. For the best protection, leave the child in the back seat.
  • 8 - 12 Years: Once children can wear seatbelts properly (lap belt snug across upper thighs and shoulder belt across chest and shoulders), they can leave booster seats behind.

5 Most Common Dangers for Children in and Around the Car

  • Backover.  A backover occurs when a car strikes a child while reversing out of a parking spot or driveway. To help prevent this, do not let children play around cars, and check the entire area around the vehicle before backing up. Also, keep music turned down so you can hear what is going on around the vehicle.
  • Heatstroke. Do not leave kids alone in the car, no matter how quickly you are planning to return. 
  • Injuries from Power Windows. Use the child safety window lock feature to prevent children from closing a window on a finger or arm.  As the driver, be sure to tell your passengers when you are about to roll the windows up or down, and look to see that arms and hands are clear.
  • Seatbelt Entanglement.  The easiest way to prevent seatbelt entanglement is to ensure that seatbelts fit children properly.  Use car seats until children can safely wear seatbelts.
  • Vehicle Rollaway.  To prevent vehicles from rolling by accident, instruct children not to touch a car’s instruments or controls unless an adult is present. Put the emergency brake on the car when parking, and never leave keys in the ignition unattended.

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