While there have been significant strides to increase car safety in the last 50 years, every year, 1.35 million people die in car accidents, and when you look at the United States, 37,000 Americans lose their lives every year.
Far more unfortunate is the case of children who lose their lives in these types of accidents. Sure, we can obey the car seat laws set forth, but what else can we do? And, how about children who can sadly be hit by cars? This month we offer some tips for both situations.
Know Your State Laws
Following your state’s law may be the minimum requirement and not necessarily what is safest. It is good to know what your state’s child restraint law is so you know what is legally required and can choose what is safest based on best practice from there. Often weight and height restrictions can keep a child in a seat a lot longer than one may think! In NJ, children under the 8 and 57 inches in height must be secured in a car seat. In addition, if they are under 40 lbs, they need to be secured as well.
Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. Muting music may also be an option.
Face The Car Seat Backwards
Children should remain rear facing for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics has been recommending rear facing car seats until at least 2 years of age for more than 10 years now. Some states have started changing their laws to reflect this recommendation. Rear facing is 5 times safer even for older children so keep your child rear facing as long as possible but at least until 2, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Look All Ways
Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street, and keep scanning left and right as you cross. Teach this basic safety habit even before your children are old enough to cross a street by themselves.
Avoid Winter Coats
Winter coats and car seats don’t mix well. During a crash the bulk of the winter coat can compress causing the harness straps to potentially be too loose over the child. This causes a dangerous situation.
Show Them The Way
Set an example for safe pedestrian behavior. Young children learn by watching adults. Be a positive role model by following (and teaching your child) these rules of the road: Obey all traffic signs and signals. Stop, and look left, right and left again before entering a roadway. Never run into the street; always cross at the crosswalk or corner. When crossing at an intersection, pedestrians should check for vehicles turning the corner.
About Walk In Sunshine
Walk In Sunshine is a charity that focuses on online resources for families who have lost a child. We plan to continue to post articles addressing all types of child loss. We will also donate $1,000 to the final arrangements of any child loss in Union County from 20 weeks gestation until the child turns 18.
Our website is www.walkinsunshinecharity.org