According to the CDC, more than 100,000 children are injured in car accidents in the U.S. every year, and more than 500 kids under 12 who are involved in car crashes each year won’t walk away. Despite the risks, parents still engage in dangerous driving habits with kids in the car.

While letting an elementary schooler ride shotgun or answering a call behind the wheel may seem harmless at the moment, little decisions like these can put an entire family’s safety at risk.

Courtesy of TOCNYS, here are six common car safety mistakes to avoid if you want to keep your kids safe in the car.

Putting Off Repairs and Maintenance

Worn-out tires, brakes, and incorrect alignments, make it harder to steer and stop your car. In a dangerous situation, your car maintenance habits could make the difference between driving away safely or getting in a collision. Keep up with routine car maintenance in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations, like rotating your tires and replacing worn wiper blades.

A key to keeping your auto in good running condition is parking it in a garage, where it isn’t exposed to the elements 24/7 and the occasional outside mishap, such as falling limbs, is negated. If you don’t currently have a garage, consider building one. In addition to protecting your car, a garage is near the top of the list when it comes to attractive amenities, adding to your home’s value come time to sell.

Drive Calm

It should come as no surprise that driving under stress raises your chances of an accident. Instead, try to remain as calm as possible. ZenBusiness offers some tips, like being mindful of your surroundings and taking deep breaths. Listening to your favorite music can be helpful as Well!

Not Buckling Up

According to a survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, of the 844 children who died in car accidents in 2019, 209 weren’t buckled up. The simple act of putting on a seatbelt dramatically reduces the chance of serious injury in a car accident, but don’t count on kids to take the initiative. Always perform a visual check to ensure everyone is buckled up before driving off.

Graduating to Seat Belts Too Soon

As Safewise explains, seat belts can only do their job when fitted properly. Before your child graduates out of a booster seat, make sure they’re tall enough to sit with their back against the seat, their feet on the floor, and the seat belt strap snug across their shoulder.

Not Keeping Kids Rear-facing as Long as Possible

Before booster seats enter the picture, your kids will graduate from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing one. But when? Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics instruct parents to keep children rear-facing as long as possible. Instead of turning around at age 2, children should use a rear-facing seat as long as their height and weight is within the car seat manufacturer’s limits.

Parenting From the Driver’s Seat

One reason parents switch to forward-facing car seats sooner than recommended is that it’s more convenient to interact with forward-facing kids, whether it’s to hand pacifiers and toys to the back seat, soothe a crying baby, or stop siblings from squabbling. In reality, these are things parents shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Your eyes should be on the road when driving, not paying attention to what’s happening in the backseat. Check that your children are set up comfortably before starting the car. If you need to assist kids in transit, pull over to a safe area first.

As parents, we want to do everything we can to keep our children safe and sound. When it comes to road safety, this means making sure your vehicle is in top-notch condition. Most importantly, keeping the kids safe during transport means insisting on a seatbelt, whether it’s while sitting in a car seat or for an older child who’s sized just right for booster-free rides.

Modern cars do a great job of keeping us safe, with safety features like lane departure warning, back-up cameras, and blind-spot detection, not to mention their top-tier crash ratings. However, auto manufacturers can only do so much. Staying safe behind the wheel also relies on you. Make sure you’re practicing safe driving habits so your family can enjoy the ride worry-free.

TOCNYS strives to provide a statewide community for: promotion of EV adoption and acceleration towards sustainability, sharing information and insight through education to members and the general public, and providing events for club engagement. Call (518) 218-6715.

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