Correctly installed and properly used child safety seats (car seats) and booster seats — or seatbelts, depending on a child's age — are the first line of defense in protecting kids on the road. Couple that with defensive driving habits and you're helping to ensure that your kids travel safely.
But kids also have some responsibilities when it comes to staying safe in a car or on a school bus. Most are in these vehicles every day and so should be taught simple rules for traveling to help keep them safe. Be sure to explain to your kids that these rules must be followed every time, no matter who is driving or how short the ride may be.
Rules for the Car
- A seatbelt must be worn during every car trip. It should be fastened before the car is even in motion and should be left on until the end of the trip.
- Use all seatbelts. Most cars have lap and shoulder belts that buckle as a unit, but some have two separate belts, one lap and one shoulder. Some have a lap belt only. Teach your kids to look for and secure every belt. Also teach them not to tuck the belt under their armpit, even if they think it is more comfortable that way. Doing so makes the belt less effective in a crash.
- Never share seatbelts. It might seem like fun, but two kids should never buckle up as a pair.
- Sit in the back seat. Kids under 13 years old should always ride in the back seat. This protects them from possible injury when a passenger-side air bag deploys. Explain that air bags could seriously hurt a small child because they are designed to protect a person with a much bigger body.
- Play it cool. Kids should understand the importance of staying calm and low-key in the back seat. If they are jumping around or yelling, it can distract the driver and put all the passengers at risk.
- Follow the rules in every car. Kids need to follow the rules if they are in a friend's or relative's car, even if other passengers don't follow the rules. If asked to sit in the front seat of someone else's car, your child should politely decline the offer and tell the driver that he or she would prefer to sit in the back seat.