Driving or riding in a car is a privilege that millions of people enjoy every day. We’re so used to getting in the car to go to work, school, visit family and friends, and take trips all over that it’s easy to take for granted the very real dangers of the road and forget basic safety advice, like remembering to buckle your seat belt.
As a parent, getting a child or a teenager to buckle up can be even more difficult than convincing an adult, as the young often just don’t understand the reasons, and simply haven’t had as much time or experience to develop safe car habits. That doesn’t mean you should give up on getting your kids to buckle up, though. Here’s some safety facts about seatbelt use among children and a few tips to help you keep your young ones safe while on the road.
Statistics Show That Seat Belts Save Lives
The statistics bear out that seat belts save lives of both children and adults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps track of accidents and crash statistics across the entire United States. The latest numbers available for 2015 show that seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives of children aged five and older nationwide; over 1,700 of these children were in Texas. More than 2,800 more lives could have been saved if everyone used seat belts, according to the NHTSA.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control also shows that well over half of teens aged 13 to 19 and adults 20 to 44 who were killed in car crashes were not wearing restraints at the time of the accident.
Why Children May Resist Seat Belts
Children can be contrarian by nature sometimes, but it’s our job as parents and adults to lead by example and do our best to educate them about safety. For the youngest, you must make it a habit yourself to be sure that they’re seated and properly secured. For older kids, you may have to do some talking. It’s worth the effort.
Here are four big reasons that kids may not wear safety belts, and what you can do as an adult to change that:
- Following by example. When a child sees an adult who doesn’t buckle up—especially an authority figure like a parent or other family member—he or she is less likely to put on a seat belt. Make it a point to clearly and visibly not only put on your belt, but secure and double-check your young ones, too. For older children and teenagers, ask that they buckle up, and don’t move the car until they do.
- Uncomfortable or poorly fitting belts. It may be that a younger child has been prematurely moved up from a car seat to a booster, or from a booster to a regular belt. A poorly fitting belt can cause children to be uncomfortable, and they may unfasten it silently, or wiggle their way partially free—which is just as dangerous as not wearing a belt at all. Make sure your children fit properly before changing car seats or boosters.
- The misconception that short trips are safer. Many fatal accidents happen surprisingly close to home—often within a few miles, and well below highway speed. Just because it’s a short trip down the road to the store or a friend’s house doesn’t mean that it’s okay to skip the seatbelt. Help make it a habit to ensure everyone is buckled up before you even start the car.
- Children are easily distracted. Many children—especially tweens or teens—seem to have smartphones, tablets, or handheld video games practically glued to their faces, and may climb into the car while engaged in a distraction, forgetting to buckle up. Make it your habit to ensure they’re buckled up, and it’ll become second nature to both you and your child in no time.
Even if your child is resistant to seat belts, don’t give in, no matter what the temptation. Car safety is simply not a negotiable behavior. It’s also illegal to be a driver or a passenger without a seat belt, even in the back seat. But even if it weren’t illegal, is it really worth the risk of losing the life of a loved one?
From all of us at Wayne Wright, please, buckle up your whole family, and stay safe out there on the road.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
Sometimes, no matter how safe we are in our cars, accidents do still happen. If your or your loved ones were hurt in an automobile accident and it wasn’t your fault, you do have legal options, and you may be able to pursue compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation, repair or replacement of your vehicle, pain and suffering, and more. To find out what Wayne Wright LLP can do for you and your family, call us by phone, reach out by email, or use the live chat box on our website to arrange a free consultation with us today.