When it comes to travelling in vehicles then children, in particular, are at greater risk of injury. Cars are intrinsically designed for adults rather than children and therefore you will need to make adaptations for children riding in cars. We will take you through what you need to do to make sure that child passengers are as safe as possible.
Infants and Toddlers
When it comes to the use of child seats in vehicles it has been shown that they reduce injuries in children by between 71%-82% when compared to the use of seat belts alone. This is because seat belts are designed around an average adult and therefore, they will not fit a child correctly. All infants and toddlers should be placed in a rear-facing car safety seat. They should continue to use these seats until they reach the maximum weight or height for the seat in question regardless of their age. This will ensure that the infant remains as safe as possible for as long as possible. It should be noted that if your vehicle has passenger-side airbags and a rear-facing child safety seat is being used then the airbag should be disabled for maximum protection.
Once the child has outgrown the rear-facing child safety seat then they should be transitioned to a forward-facing child safety seat. This seat should include a full harness to restrain the child in place. Young children should continue to use the rear-facing child safety seat until they have reached the maximum height or weight for the seat. Following on from this then they should be transitioned to a booster seat. This is normally when they are between 8 and 12 years old or have attained a height of 4ft9. This will allow them to use the usual seat belt in the vehicle in conjunction with the booster seat.
Children up to the age of 13 years old should only ever be placed into the rear of the vehicle. This provides for maximum safety. Once they are old enough and large enough to use the seat belt alone then the booster seat can be dispensed with, but they should continue to use the rear of the vehicle. Despite all of these recommendations around 1000 children under the age of 16 dies in vehicle crashes every year in the US.
As a driver of a vehicle that has children in it, you should be aware of the need to take extra care whilst driving. Children are great at providing a distraction to your driving and so you need to be aware of this. If you can, have an additional adult passenger along with you so that they can attend to the children whilst you concentrate on the driving. If the drive is particularly long then you will need to provide some form of entertainment for the children as a bored child is a particularly distracting child. Also, be aware that some children get car sick, so you will need to pull over if you notice the warning signs.