Tips for Driving Safely with Children

Safety should always be first priority when operating an automobile and is even more critical when you are carrying your most precious cargo – your children. Following these safety tips can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries to both your children and yourself.

Car Seats and Seatbelts. The most important thing you can do to protect your children is to make sure that they are properly secured. Drivers in New York are required to secure their children in age-appropriate car seats, and your insurance company may also require proper car seats as a condition of coverage. A good car seat, placed in the correct position, is the best way to protect a young child in an accident. Even a minor collision can cause serious injuries to a child who has not been properly restrained. Never drive anywhere, even short distances, without placing your child in a car set, and pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to position the seat for maximum safety.

Children who are old enough to travel without a car seat should still ride in the backseat until they are at least twelve years old or until they are the size and weight of an average twelve-year-old. Front seat airbags can save the life of an adult driver, but the force of an airbag’s deployment can injure a child.

In addition to making sure that your children wear seatbelts at all times, you should also make sure that you and all adult passengers are also safely belted before the car is put in gear. Not only will seatbelts help protect the car’s occupants in case of an accident, but you will instill in your children a good habit that may someday save their lives.

Avoid Distractions. According to the CDC, nine people are killed in the United States every day due to distracted driving. Studies have also shown that adults are more likely to be distracted when they have children in the car. You can help avoid some distractions by giving your children a quiet activity to do while in the car, such as a game or video with headphones, book, or toy to play with. If your child needs something like a tissue, or if he or she drops an object, do not try to retrieve the object while you are driving. Taking your attention off the road even for a short time is dangerous. Stop the car if you need to attend to your child.

Secure Objects. Children riding in the back seat can be injured by unsecured objects in the event of an accident or a sudden stop. Place heavy items in the trunk or use a cargo net or other device to help keep your groceries from becoming dangerous projectiles.

Never Leave Children Alone. Young children should not be left in a vehicle alone, even for a short period of time. In addition to the obvious danger of overheating, other risks include strangers entering the car, children accidentally putting the car in gear, and children getting stuck under the seats.

If you or your child are injured in an automobile accident, call an auto accident expert at O’Brien & Ford right away. Our attorneys are always available for a free consultation by calling 716-907-7777, or you may visit our website at UPDATE: Although we are working from alternate locations, we remain fully functional and look forward to helping you.