Car seats and child safety

By Emma Williams
10-05-2024
Car seats and child safety

Securing Precious Cargo – Expert tips for child safety in the car.

Whether you’re on the school run or going on a family road trip it’s important you know how to keep your little ones safe in the car. Here are some top tips for you as a parent to follow to keep your child safe in the car as well as pointers on what you should instil in your children so they can grow up knowing how to keep themselves safe.

The most important thing to keep your child safe starts from your first ever journey with your new child – the car seat.

Fitting and using a car seat for your child: (Reference – Child accident prevention trust)

Baby car seats:

For babies it’s safest to travel rear-facing for as long as possible and in the back of the car. If for any reason you have to put them in the front of the car the passenger airbag must be switched off – if this were to activate in a crash it would harm your baby. You move your baby to a forward facing seat when they reach the weight limit or the crown of their head reaches the top of the baby seat.

Car seats for toddlers and young children:

Your baby can be moved to either a forward or rear facing child seat when they outgrow their baby car seat. Some rear facing baby seats are designed to be changed to forward facing toddler/child seats when your child reaches 15 months. Others can be used rear facing until your child is 105cm tall (approx. 4 years old).

Rear facing seats offer more protection for your child’s neck especially in a head on collision so sticking with a rear facing seat for as long as possible could offer more safety in a crash.

Also, keeping your child in a car seat with an integral harness for as long as possible offers more safety to them. Leave the move to a booster seat until your child’s eye-line is above the back of the child seat or the weight limit is reached.

Older children and car seats:

Booster seats are generally for children between 15kg and 36kg. Most booster seats ‘grow’ with your child. A high-backed booster seat offers the best protection for your child, providing side protection and support.

Buying your baby or child car seat:

 Buying second-hand car seats is not recommended as they could have been damaged in an accident and you might not be able to tell by looking at them.

 Not every seat will fit properly in every car, try the seat in your car before you buy it.

 The seat should be secure and not wobble. If it does it is not suitable for your car.

If your car has ISOFIX attachments then it is advisable to make use of them and buy an ISOFIX seat.

Try and find a seat that’s quick and easy to fit to make life easier for you and avoid the temptation of not using it on short journeys!

Window and Door locks:

Activate the child safety locks on your car doors to prevent children from opening the doors while the car is moving (or standing still!) According to the AA this is how you activate a child lock in your car:

Child safety locks tend to be built into the rear doors of most cars. They’re generally easy to activate once you know how to. Most can be activated via a small switch on the edge of the door that is only accessible when the door is open. However – every car is different! Some have a rotary mechanism only operated by a key. Or, in some newer models, the child lock is activated electronically from the driver position on a door control unit. If in doubt, dig out your car manual and familiarize yourself with your car safety features.

Teaching your children about car safety:

Its important children know how to stay safe when they’re in the car. Here are some pointers:

Seat belts:

When a child reaches the age of 12 or 135cm tall – whichever is first – they no longer need a car seat and should be wearing a seat belt. If they don’t you as the driver could be held responsible and fined if seat belts aren’t worn. From 14 years onwards the child is responsible for themselves and they could be fined personally for not wearing a seat belt!

Wearing a seat belt will protect your children if you have an accident and highlighting that seat belts are required at all times should be at the top of your car-safety list. And always set a good example yourself by buckling up as soon as you get in the car.

Sit in the back:

Children aged 12 or younger should sit in the back because it’s the safest place in the car. Airbags in the front of the car can harm children.

Playing in the car:

There’s a time and a place for everything and loud or physical games are not the right idea for entertainment in the car! Noise can distract the driver and cause an accident. There are gentle games designed for the car such as ‘I spy’ – an old classic, or encourage your kids to listen to stories or music on headphones or podcasts for older children.

Don’t leave the car without permission:

Jumping out of the car in car parks or areas of busy traffic can be dangerous. It is getting more risky as we move into a future of EV’s as vehicles are becoming harder to hear as they approach. Tell your children not to rely on listening out for moving cars but to actively look for them before stepping out of the car.

A few extra tips:

 Store your car keys safely to stop your children getting hold of them.

Ensure your children keep their limbs and head inside the car at all times and don’t hang them out of windows or doors.

Keep loose items in the glove box or boot so they don’t fly around dangerously in the event of an accident.

Keep plenty of water and snacks in the car, particularly for long journeys to keep your family hydrated and to stave off hunger which can cause agitation!

Try and always keep some warm clothing or a blanket in the car just in case of emergencies.

Never leave a child unattended in the car, even for a minute and never leave a child in a car on a hot day as the temperature inside the car can get to dangerously high levels and cause serious harm or even death.

I hope you have found this helpful – a lot of it is just common sense but worth documenting! Teaching your children about car safety as early in life as possible is definitely the way to go and will help prevent unnecessary accidents and make all journeys safer for everyone. To find out how MW Vehicle Contracts can help you find your next vehicle speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable account managers who will be more than happy to answer any of your questions and help you find the right car or van for your needs.