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Protecting your child in the car should take precedence over anything else on your mind. With all the distractions and pressing responsibilities, parents need to get down to basics. Here are five things your child needs to stay safe in the car.
A child car seat or booster seat of proper size. All children must be properly restrained whenever traveling in the car. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children. In general, all children aged four and under must be in an approved car seat or booster seat that’s appropriate for their age and size. It’s also important to know state laws governing child restraint, as they aren’t all the same. A good place to start is SeatCheck.org.
A child car seat that's been properly installed and is used correctly. The statistics are pretty startling. Seven out of 10 children in child safety seats are not properly buckled in. Have your child safety seat inspected at one of the inspection locations certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or call 866-SEAT-CHECK.
When shopping for car seats or booster seats, always look for the top-rated ones, those with high scores in the areas of crash protection, ease of use, fit to vehicle, cupholders, fold-down armrests, seat weight and side-impact material.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has tested a number of booster seats. See the results here.
Locked doors. Keeping your child safe requires taking proactive precautions, including the recommendation to keep all doors locked when driving as well as when the vehicle is parked. Make use of child-proof locks so that your child isn’t able to accidentally open the door when the car is moving. Making sure car doors are locked when the vehicle is parked also prevents children from getting in the vehicle and becoming trapped there.
Some safe distractions for long drives. Children are notorious for their short attention spans. One way to keep them occupied for slightly longer periods of time is to bring along plenty of safe distractions. Items that should be high on your bring-along list include age-appropriate books, toys, a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, movies they can watch on DVD rear-entertainment systems, and a pacifier for teething babies.
A reserved seat--in the back row. Older children aged 12 and under should always ride in the back seat of family cars – never in front. Make it a practice never to start the vehicle and get underway until all children are securely restrained with seat belts fastened.