Somewhere along the line, every parent gets caught in a situation where car seats and seatbelts are an issue. Remember when you first brought your baby home and you wrestled with the car seat in the hospital parking lot for 20 minutes to make sure it was perfectly secured and safe? What about that time you thought junior was all bucked in, only to realize you forgot to fasten his seatbelt when you got to the store? The truth is, it happens.
According to a new study released this month by Safe Kids Worldwide, one in four parents admit to driving a car while their young child was unrestrained. Several of the excuses were that the parents were in a rush, they were only driving a short distance, or they were traveling overnight. In fact, all of these reasons are linked to a high percentage of crashes.
Parents were also polled about when the most acceptable time or situation would be (if any) for a child to ride without a restraint, and some of the answers were surprising. The number one excuse was when a family was riding in a taxi cab. Like taxis are somehow impervious to car crashes. News flash: a cab is still a car; you still need a restraint.
Another excuse was that there’s just not enough room in the vehicle. While we know there’s enough room for car seats for every baby, sometimes you’re faced with the situation of getting three or four kids somewhere, and if you don’t own a minivan, you might need to do some creative buckling.
The cherry-on-top excuse was that parents think riding without a restraint is an acceptable reward for their kids. Never, ever, ever should riding unsafely in a motor vehicle be a reward. It’s like saying, “Honey, you did so well on that math test, go ahead and lick your finger and stick it into that light socket. Good for you!” What a horrible, potentially dangerous reward that will teach them a bad habit for life!
Any child who doesn’t meet the height and/or weight limit for a regular seat belt should be properly restrained in a properly installed car seat or booster seat, depending on the state law. In case you didn’t know, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says that Nevada’s fine for driving a child in a car without proper restraint is a whopping $500 and California law will dole out an equally painful $490 plus one point on the driver’s license.
Have you ever let your child ride in the car without being properly restrained, moms? Share your experience below.