Tips for keeping kids safe on the road

(BPT) - With all the distractions on today's roads, parents are feeling increasingly anxious about keeping their children safe while driving. According to a new study by Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll, more than six in ten American parents believe roads today are more dangerous than ever, and are actively seeking guidance on how to properly protect their loved ones when they’re on-the-go.

To help parents overcome their anxiety around child safety on the road, Volvo Car USA and Britax, two leaders in the field, worked together to curate helpful tips to keep children protected from harm and give peace of mind to parents everywhere.

Parents are overwhelmed when researching child safety products.

Parents have never had more options or information available to help them make decisions, yet for nearly two-thirds of parents, this is causing more confusion and stress. Almost all new parents (97%) find it overwhelming to research products — with 58% citing car seats specifically as a product they are seeking more guidance on how to install and use properly.

Tip 1: Keep children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible.

In some states, children are required by law to sit rear-facing until a certain age. However, that does not mean they should move to a forward-facing seat immediately when they come of age. Safety experts recommend children remain rear-facing until reaching the maximum height or weight restrictions for that seat. Rear-facing seats spread crash forces more evenly across the back of the car seat.

Besides keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, make sure you've installed the safety seat correctly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly three in five (59%) car seats are installed incorrectly. Additional resources and information about car seat installation can be found at nhtsa.gov.

Tip 2: Install harnessed seats using either the LATCH system or the safety belt.

One of the most common misconceptions in car seat installation is that utilizing both the LATCH system and safety belt together adds a layer of protection, when in fact, it’s not recommended by most car seat and vehicle manufacturers. Read both the seat instructions and vehicle owner’s manual to determine the best way to install the car seat and ensure the seat does not move more than one inch side-to-side or front-to-back at the belt path once installed.

Parents are distracted when driving with children.

Two-thirds of parents surveyed said they often feel distracted while driving with children. About one in three parents reported children throwing a tantrum or getting sick while they were driving, leading them to shift their focus away from the road. As a result, one in four new parents said they unintentionally ran over a curb while driving with children, while one in five admitted to getting into a fender bender with their child in the car.

Tip 3: Avoid reaching into the back seat while driving.

Whether you’re reaching for an item, consoling a child or breaking up an argument, it’s safer to pull over and address the issue than to take your eyes off the road, even when stopped behind stalled traffic, at a stop sign or traffic signal. Better to arrive at your destination late than to end up in an accident. Parents also said they’ve experienced children throwing a toy (22%) or food (18%) at them from the backseat while they were driving.

Tip 4: Secure items inside the car.

Limiting the number of items accessible to children in the back seat not only to makes it less likely to have an unexpected item hurled at the driver, but also prevents the possibility of items becoming projectiles that could harm passengers in the event of a crash.

To read the full report from Volvo USA and The Harris Poll, visit volvocars.com.

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