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They may be your own, or they’re your grand-kids or your friend’ kids, but driving with kids is a task that should always be taken seriously. Having kids in the car can be quite distracting. Perhaps they are fighting in the back seat, or maybe one is asking you for a snack while the other has to make an urgent bathroom stop. Paying attention to the road and to the kids is a trying experience. Read these tips to find out how to keep your pint-sized passengers safe and sound, for any trip at any age.Buckle up, every time: Even if you’re just going down the street, all passengers should buckle up every single time they ride in the car, and you should, too. Make it a point to not shift out of park until everyone is buckled in.
Always supervise: It might seem like no big deal to just run into the store for two minutes and grab something: but leaving kids alone in the car, even for a few minutes can be dangerous and even deadly. Kids have died in hot and cold cars, and in some states, leaving kids unsupervised is against the law. Take the time to bring them in with you, or leave them at home with a sitter.
Share the rules: Children should be taught that driving is serious business, so it’ important to stay calm and quiet when riding in the car. Teach kids not to play in or around cars, especially in the front or back. If your children are older, but still under the age of 13, let them know how important it is to sit in the back seat, and how to advocate for themselves if they ride with someone who doesn’t know the rules.
Purchase wisely: Never buy a car seat from a thrift store or any source that prevents you from finding out the seat’ condition and crash history (car seats that have been in a crash should not be used again). If you’re buying a car seat second hand, be sure it is in good condition and includes all parts.
Check your seat: According to the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide, 73 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly. Be sure that you have the right-size car seat for the child’ age, weight and height, and that it’ installed properly. For detailed guidelines, follow this link.
Follow age recommendations (even for tweens): Infants and toddlers up to 2 years old should ride in a rear-facing car seat; children ages 3 to 5 should ride in a front-facing car seat. After age 5 (or when your child outgrows the car seat), be sure to use a booster seat until your child’ seat belt fits properly. Last but not least, all kids should ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old, even if they are the same size as you. Before age 13, kids’ skeletons are not fully developed and the risk of serious injury is much greater if they are in the front seat during a crash. For more information, visit the CDC website.
Use safe diversions: Try to avoid any hard-edged toys in the car – they can cause injuries in the event of an accident – or anything that could potentially be distracting to the driver.