We spend a lot of time in our vehicles, and we cart around a lot of cargo: groceries, an emergency kit, an overnight bag, sporting gear, and more. But nothing is more treasured than the little ones we shuttle from place to place. Though we don’t even want to think about the possibility that an accident could harm one of them, the truth is that automobile accidents are the leading cause of fatalities in children from age one to twelve.
The most important thing you can do to protect your precious cargo is to make certain that they are properly restrained each and every time you are traveling, no matter how short the trip. Here are some tips for you.
- Know Your Laws: Each state has its own guidelines, and it’s important to know the requirements of the state in which you are traveling.
Go Above and Beyond: While obeying the law is essential, remember that legislators cannot consider the needs of each individual child. Do your own research on what the safest method of restraint is for your child, based on their size or developmental needs. The NHTSA has some helpful tips for choosing the right seat, as well as a great deal of other information on the subject.
Choose Wisely: Many people are unaware that carseats expire. Many actually have an expiration date imprinted on the bottom or the back, or a “birthdate”. The general rule is that a carseat will last 6 years, but you must check manufacturer’s guidelines to be sure. Remember that materials break down (especially in temperature extremes), technology advances and safety guidelines improve with increased knowledge. For this same reason, you should never buy a used carseat. Further, always replace a carseat that has been involved in an accident, just in case there is unseen damage.
Know Your Vehicle: It seems technology is rapidly advancing in this area. If you purchase a new or used car, make sure you explore the safety systems that will work with your carseat. Explore the owners’ manual or the manufacturer’s website. Some even have instructional videos available to assist.
Install Properly: Any carseat, booster seat, or seatbelt will be completely ineffective if it isn’t used correctly. Follow instructions carefully, and consider having a professional inspection. This can be done at many fire departments, at Children’s Hospital or Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis, and a number of other places. Search for an inspection station by zip code. The backseat is always the best place for children under age 12.
Schaefer Autobody Centers wants you to be safe. We understand that some accidents cannot be avoided. We encourage you to do everything you can to keep you and your family safe in such an event. In our next blog, we will explore a few more tips to get everyone on board with the safety plan. Until then, drive safely and don’t forget to buckle up – everyone!