Motor vehicles can be dangerous for anyone inside, especially child passengers who are more fragile than larger adults. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600 child passengers ages 12 and younger were killed in car crashes in 2020, and more than 63,000 kids were injured. Many of those children were not properly secured in the car. There are many actions that adults can take to keep their children safe while driving.
1. Use the Proper Car Seat, Booster Seat, or Seat Belt for Your Child.
South Carolina requires all children aged 8 and younger to sit in a booster seat or car seat. Additionally, all car seats, booster seats, and children in seat belts should be in the rear space of a vehicle.
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, infants under the age of 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat until the child exceeds the height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the seat. Children who are at least aged 2 or under 2 and have outgrown their rear-facing seat may be in forward-facing car seats until the age of 4.
South Carolina car seat law also requires children at least age 4 who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats to sit in a booster seat. The lap and shoulder belts must be used with the booster seat. A booster seat helps your child sit high enough to allow the seat belt to work properly on their smaller body.
A child who is at least age 8 or 57 inches tall may advance to sitting without a booster seat, but they must use a seat belt if the child can be secured properly by an adult.
2. Seat Children in the Back of the Vehicle.
All children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat of a car. This protects them from dangerous head-on collisions as well as violent passenger-side airbag deployment. Air bags can seriously injure small children because they are designed to protect an adult with a larger body. The force that an airbag exerts can cause as much damage to a child as the vehicle collision itself.
Airbags can even injure children in slow speed car accidents. Thus, it is important for children to always sit in the back of a vehicle, even if you are not traveling far or at a high rate of speed.
3. Drive Safely and Defensively While Children are in the Car.
You should drive safely by following the rules of the road and try to be a defensive driver to protect your children when they are passengers in the car. Some actions you can take to drive safely and defensively include:
- Stay focused and alert
- Do not drive while drowsy
- Do not drive while intoxicated
- Look out for other drivers
- Yield right of way to other drivers and pedestrians
- Avoid aggressive drivers
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Put your cell phone down (hands off!)
- Avoid distracted driving
- Maintain the speed limit
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and the car in front of you
Use tools like GPS devices and other navigation tools carefully. While they can be helpful, they may result in distracted driving.
4. Keep Kids Busy and Help Them Remember to Stay Calm.
Children should remain calm while in a vehicle. You can help them do this by keeping them busy. Younger children may be occupied with mirrors, books, and other simple distractions. Older children may need more involved activities like road games or a tablet.
When children are upset, they can cause an unsafe distraction for the driver. By planning ahead and preparing activities for children who will be in the back seat, you can ensure everyone has a safe and pleasant trip.
5. Don’t Allow Children to Eat in the Backseat.
While you need to have activities for children when they ride in the backseat, you should avoid giving them food to eat. Snacking while driving might sound like a good idea; however, there are risks. Your child may choke or have a problem swallowing and you will not be aware. It will be difficult to get to your child if they are behind you.
If you plan on being on the road for a long period of time and do not want to stop frequently, you should consider foods and drinks that do not pose choking hazards. For example, applesauce pouches, tubes of yogurt, and juice boxes are all safe options while in the car.
Call Attorney Venus Poe If You Are in a Car Accident with Your Child
If you are involved in a car accident and your child is a passenger, you will have many legal issues to deal with. The legal process is somewhat different for child victims of car crashes. There are a variety of statutes of limitations (deadlines on when lawsuits can be filed) that must be considered as well as other details that must be conducted differently.
When a child is injured in a car accident, you need to work with an attorney who is familiar with the process. Call personal injury lawyer Venue Poe today at (864) 963-0310 for a case consultation.