View Our Practice Areas

5 ways to keep your child safe in the car on Washington roads

There are a number of ways that parents in Washington can keep their children safe while in and around vehicles.

It is an unfortunate fact that motor vehicle accidents are responsible for an alarming number of injuries and fatalities in children every year. However, there are a number of ways that parents in Washington can increase a child's safety. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that placing an infant in a car seat lowers the risk of his or her death by 71 percent and using a toddler car seat reduces the odds of a fatality by 54 percent.

Through adhering to the following tips, parents can further protect their children:

1. Proper car seat usage

It simply is not enough to place a child in a car seat. The seat must be properly secured in the vehicle, and the child must be properly secured in the seat. Washington law even requires appropriate car seat use, stating that children younger than 8 must be in a child restraint system.

Additionally, parents are warned against using a secondhand seat because it could be missing instructions or have suffered unseen damage in a car accident. A used seat may also no longer match current safety standards designed to minimize injury in a car accident.

2. Do not leave children unattended

Parents are discouraged from leaving a child in a car alone, even if it is only momentarily. Temperatures inside a car can escalate quickly, even faster than many people would imagine.

3. Trunk safety

Children may be tempted to play in parked vehicles, and the trunk may appear to be a good hiding spot. Parents should ensure cars are locked at home and that children do not have access to the keys. SafeKids.org warns that cars built after Sept. 1, 2001, are equipped with an emergency trunk release. Kids who are old enough to understand these knobs should be shown where they are and how they work.

4. Talk to teens about the issues

Parents with children who are of legal driving age should discuss the risky behaviors many young people engage in, such as the following:

  • Texting behind the wheel
  • Drinking and driving
  • Speeding
  • Racing

Having an honest discussion with a child can ensure he or she is aware of the risks. It also opens communication, enabling a child to call his or her parent if a dangerous situation arises, such as a peer who has been drinking and wants to drive.

5. Safety around cars

It goes without saying that children are easily fascinated with motor vehicles. While it can be fun to play with miniature cars and trucks, it also presents a good time to talk to a child about safety around vehicles. Children should understand how to look for cars before crossing the road. Additionally, an adult should always accompany a child who is getting in or out of a vehicle. This can prevent an accident in a parking lot, driveway, busy road or elsewhere.

Teaching children basic safety and implementing safe practices is essential. If an accident does occur, victims who have suffered due to negligence can seek recourse. People who have questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Washington.