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Introduction to Car Safety for Kids

Driving is a privilege for responsible adults, and as parents, it's very important to pass car safety rules on to children. Young children are very observant and will notice the way you're driving, even if you think they may not be aware. It's very important to teach children about safe driving and how to operate a vehicle in a safe manner so that they will become good, safe drivers when they are old enough to get behind the wheel. It's also recommended that children are taught how to properly behave in the car while you're driving to ensure that you can maintain attention to the road with minimal distractions. With a few helpful tips and simple lessons, your child will understand the best way to practice car safety whether you are heading on vacation or just running a few errands.

Seat Belt Safety

  • Always secure your seat belts and make sure that your children wear their seat belts as soon as you get inside of the car.
  • Seat belts save lives. Tell your children about how seat belts work and what they do to keep both the driver and passengers safe in the event of an accident.
  • Young adults have the highest incidence of crash-related injuries. This is why teaching seat belt safety young is so integral.
  • Show your children how to properly wear their seat belt: always across the body and never under the shoulder or behind the arms. Kids should also each have their own seat belt and never double up to prevent serious injury.
  • Approximately 33,000 people perish in automobile accidents annually. Studies have shown that regular seat belt use can reduce these numbers significantly.

Keeping Quiet in the Car

  • Distracted driving has become a major cause of accidents in recent years. Whether someone is texting, applying makeup, or eating while driving, doing so can be very dangerous, and another distraction is having a noisy car while you're in motion.
  • Teach children to stay as quiet as possible in the car while you are driving, and let them know that it is so you can pay close attention to the road to get everyone where you're going safely.
  • Whenever possible, seat children as far apart from each other as possible. This will limit distractions for them as well as yourself.
  • Plan your trip ahead so you can try to avoid traffic jams and sitting in the car for long periods of time as much as possible. Children tend to be quieter when you're moving as opposed to being stuck in traffic, where they can become restless and noisy.

What to Look for as Parents

  • It's very important to never leave babies or small children inside of a parked car. Many children die every year from heatstroke due to being left alone in a hot car. Never leave kids behind, even if you're just running a quick errand.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of car safety as you drive. Show them what a turn signal is and what it does as well as headlights and windshield wipers. These simple things will stick with kids as they get older so they'll be prepared for driving one day themselves.
  • Always set a good example as a driver and show your children how to be patient when on the road. When teaching teens how to drive, it's integral that parents practice what they preach so their kids will follow their safe driving habits when they get behind the wheel.
  • Make sure you have the proper child safety seats installed in your car depending on your child's current age and size. When in doubt, local organizations such as your AAA branch or even the police department can help show you how to buckle your little one into their safety seat the correct way.

Keeping Kids Occupied on Long Car Rides

  • Hand-held games, books, and small DVD players are all great ways to keep children engaged on a long road trip.
  • If the children are becoming too noisy while you're driving, pull over in a safe place and let everyone stretch their legs and calm down before continuing on.
  • Have fun on your trip, and make it even more special by stopping at a few landmarks along the way so kids are occupied and excited about the trip. It also gives them wonderful memories they'll always treasure.
  • Make sure you pack enough snacks and beverages for children so when they get hungry, you won't have to stop and buy something. Snacks also help keep little hands and minds occupied.

Always Follow the Rules

  • Following the rules of the road not only keeps everyone safe, but it also sets a good example for your children about proper driving habits. Don't talk on your cell phone when driving, so you can show your children and teens how important it is to pay attention as you drive.
  • Never speed, and always use your turn signal when making turns. Do not follow other vehicles too closely; make sure you have ample time to brake safely.
  • Talk to your children about all of the different road signs and what they mean so they can learn what to do when they become drivers someday.
  • Even though other drivers can sometimes be frustrating, it's very important to keep your cool so you're setting the proper example for your children. Getting angry or exhibiting "road rage" can frighten children and can put you and their safety at risk.
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