Unfortunately, children aren’t immune to the dangers of riding in a car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, children under 14 accounted for over a thousand traffic fatalities in 2020. That statistic can be intimidating for parents of young children who want to protect their kids from potential harm.
Knowing how to keep your child safe reduces their risk of injury if an accident occurs. Explore helpful tips for keeping your child safe while in the car. If you experience a vehicle collision, contact the attorneys at Catalano Law to learn your legal options.
1. Use Car Seats Correctly
A properly installed car seat is paramount for your baby’s safety, but far too many children are inadequately restrained on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), one study found that as many as 91% of rear-facing car seats were improperly installed.
Other children are in danger because they have improperly sized car seats, ride in the passenger seat, or use an old or damaged car seat. All of these scenarios do not provide sufficient protection.
The federal government and many traffic safety organizations, like the IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), maintain an up-to-date list of car seat safety tips.
The IIHS recommends that all parents:
- Use a rear-facing child seat. Most children aren’t ready to sit in a front-facing booster seat until they weigh over 35 pounds or are 35 inches tall.
- Always check for recalls on the car seat.
- Ensure the car seat is structurally sound. It should have all components in place and be free of cracks, warped parts, or stretches in the harness.
- Install the seat in the back row, not the passenger seat.
- Use the LATCH system to secure the seat in place. All cars manufactured after 2003 will have LATCH systems.
- Don’t use an old or used car seat. Car seats have expiration dates, after which their manufacturer recommends they not be used anymore. This date is typically six years after release, but check the car seat model to be sure.
2. Keep Objects Out of the Car Seat
It’s not a good idea to place toys, blankets, pillows, bottles, snacks, or other objects inside your baby’s car seat. Your child could choke if they put something in their mouth or be suffocated by a pillow or blanket blocking their airway. The only thing that belongs in your baby’s car seat is your baby, not their possessions.
Some parents recommend attaching hanging toys to your baby’s car seat lever to reduce the risk of choking on toys. However, hanging toys risk breaking and becoming a flying projectile in a car crash. If you use hanging toys, choose soft plushies or silicone that won’t hurt you or your child in a collision.
3. Steer Clear of Distractions
Anything that takes your eyes off the road, like texting or adjusting the navigation system, is dangerous regardless of whether or not you have a baby on board. Avoid distractions while driving and put your phone away or on silent, so it doesn’t take your focus off the road.
Additionally, while most people wouldn’t consider drowsy driving a distraction, it can be just as dangerous. If you’re tired, you can’t pay adequate attention to the road, make decisions as quickly, or even remain awake at the wheel. Sleep deprivation affects approximately 8% to 13% of new mothers, and most new parents will experience sleep loss after a child is born. Avoid driving if you feel exhausted or overtired.
4. Pull Over if Your Baby Is Crying
If your child starts crying in the back seat, your first instinct is likely to turn around to try and see what’s wrong, but this takes your eyes off the road and puts you at risk of a crash. Instead, pull over on the side of the road or park in a nearby parking lot to attend to your baby safely.
Remember never to speed with your baby in the car, even if you’re hurrying to tend to their needs. Drive the speed limit and find the nearest parking lot where you can pull over to reduce the potential for a collision.
5. Never Leave Your Baby In the Car
Leaving any child unattended in the car is dangerous, as cold winters and hot summers quickly create deadly environments for them. Babies are much smaller than adults, have more difficulty regulating their body temperature, and cannot let themselves out of the vehicle or call for help. When you get out of the car, always remember to check the back seat so that you don’t leave your child inside by accident.
If you were in a car accident with your child and suffered serious injuries, you may be able to seek compensation from your car insurance company. In severe cases, you may be eligible to file a legal claim against the driver who caused the crash. Contact Catalano Law to learn your legal options for recovering compensation after a car accident.
Catalano Law has taken on many car accident cases in New York to ensure victims get the settlements they deserve. Whether you need help fighting a denied insurance claim or filing a personal injury case, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands with our attorneys.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.