Child Passenger Safety: Your On-the-Road Guide

Written by | Updated August 28, 2017

Three kids laughing in car on a road trip.

In 2016, Americans bought more cars than ever before,1 resulting in nearly 270 million cars registered across the nation in 2017.2 With more cars on the roads, it’s smart to take a closer look at safety—especially for those with precious passengers on board.

Toting kids around, whether you’re running errands, driving the daily carpool, or embarking on a road trip across the country, adds extra responsibility and anxiety to your time behind the wheel. At SafeWise, we understand the need to keep your family safe on the road. Check out our child passenger safety recommendations—including the latest gadgets and driving safety tips—and put those road-time worries to rest.

Before You Hit the Road

The best way to keep your kiddos safe in the car is to be prepared before you leave the driveway. That means making sure your car is road-ready and anticipating what your kids will need during the trip. Start with the right child car safety know-how and tools to make every trip as safe as possible.

Know the Law

Every state has child safety seat laws in place. Laws are typically based on age, height, and weight and require that children and infants be properly restrained in motor vehicles. From infancy and potentially into the early teens, your child will have to sit in car seats, booster seats, and specialty child restraints. Learn your state’s laws and get prepared with the proper equipment before buckling your child in.

Get the Right Child Safety Seat

Depending on your child’s age and size, different car seat safety guidelines will apply. Infants should be secured in rear-facing child safety seats, while older kids may only require a booster seat or an adjuster that allows them to use the adult seatbelts properly. Be sure to choose a new car seat that meets all child car safety requirements and comes with a good warranty. Be wary of hand-me-down car seats, and watch out for car seats that have expired or been involved in a crash.

Install Car Seats Properly

Car seat safety is only as effective as the installation. Car seats and booster seats come with specific set-up instructions. A properly installed child safety seat will anchor your child and protect them in the event of a crash. Read all instructions carefully and ensure you understand how to install the car seat and how to properly restrain your child in the seat once it’s been installed. If you’re unsure, have a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) inspect your car seat.

Add a Few Child Safety Extras

Give yourself extra peace of mind and make your time on the road safer and more hassle-free with these handy gadgets.

  • In-Car Baby Monitor: Monitors aren’t just for the nursery any more. Make every trip safer with a car monitor like the Yada Tiny Traveler Baby Monitor. You’ll be able to check on baby in the back seat without having to turn around or take your eyes off the road.
  • Seat Belt Pillow: Long car rides can make us all restless, and the quest for peace can tempt us to forgo proper car seat safety. Keep kids comfy without sacrificing safety with a pillow that’s specially designed for use with safety restraints. Verisa’s seat belt pillow offers kids a comfortable way to grab a nap and gives you some extra peace on lengthy drives.

On the Go

Once you’re prepped and ready to hit the road, it’s time to safely get your crew from place to place. Use these safety-savvy road trip hacks to keep everyone safe and comfortable when you’re behind the wheel.

Minimize Distractions

Limit on-the-go surprises and crises by taking care of things like potty breaks and snacks before you jump in the car. Make sure that snacks are easy to eat and don’t present choking hazards. Put all toys, books, bottles, and munchies within easy reach of your child so you won’t be distracted by trying to hand them something as you drive. Review the rules of the road with your youngsters, and remind them of safe riding habits, including keeping their seat belts buckled even if they accidentally drop their favorite toys.

Activate Child Safety Locks

Nearly all vehicles come with child safety locks that prevent your child from unlocking and opening a car door mid-drive. If you’ve never used child safety locks before, read your owner’s manual or watch an online tutorial to learn how to activate this important car safety feature.

Entertain Kids Safely with Tech

Modern technology means we don’t have to fly solo when it comes to keeping kids securely entertained in the car. Take advantage of high- and low-tech solutions that help you manage car trips safely and with a smile on your face.

  • En Route Entertainment: If you don’t yet have a tablet, this may be your justification for picking one up. Rather than buying a mobile DVD player for your car that will sit unused much of the time, set your kids up with on-demand entertainment via a mobile tablet. All you need is a headrest mount, and you’ve got a solution that helps cut down in-car unrest so you can focus on driving.
  • Back Seat Organizer: Every car trip is easier if you don’t have to worry about an impromptu tantrum. It’s easy to keep snacks and entertainment within easy reach of your children with an over-the-seat organizer that has a place for everything from your iPad to snacks and a water bottle. We like Mom’s Besty Luxury Car Back Seat Organizer with Tablet Holder.
  • Sun Shades: Nobody’s happy with the glaring sun beating down on them. Help keep kids comfortable and relaxed by installing a car sun shade on the side windows to keep blinding sun out of your kids’ eyes. You can find shades with fun designs or stick to more traditional shades that won’t impact your car’s cool factor.

Child passenger safety is important for every parent to understand. Stay informed about the latest car safety requirements and products to keep you and your little ones safe for many, many miles.

  1. 1. Los Angeles Times, “2016 US Auto Sales Set New Record High, Led by SUVs
  2. 2. Hedges & Company, “United States Vehicle Ownership Data, Automobile Statistics and Trends

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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