Need to Know Basics: Road Safety for Parents & Children

A good parent will want to do anything they can to protect their children from harm, and many do put in great efforts to be proactive in taking preventative measures for the well-being of their children.

As our children age, their safety needs also change and road safety is no different. Below, Howard Blau Law has summarized some essential safety tips from A Comprehensive Guide on Road Safety for Parents, which assert various safety practices parents can employ throughout their child’s life stages.

Children Under One Year

Children are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat if they are under 2 years of age, except if they weigh more than 40 lbs. or are over 40” tall. Facing backward in the center of the  backseat has been proven the safest position for a child in a car seat.

Children Ages One to Seven

After a child’s second birthday, they can begin sitting forward-facing in their car seat. It is ideal to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible, but they will be growing out of their infant seat. An All-In-One seat can better accommodate a child through their growth.

In California, there are no specific ‘graduation’ parameters set for when a child should move on from a five-point harness to a booster seat, but the following guidelines are good to keep in mind:

  • Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
  • Children under 8 years must ride in the back seat of a vehicle unless:
  • The vehicle has no back seats
  • Back seats are side-facing
  • Back seats face to the rear of the vehicle
  • A child safety seat cannot be installed safely in the back seat.

Technically, children can be kept rear-facing until they are 7 years old; after that point, it becomes more of a danger to them. Still, be sure to take into consideration their height.

Booster Seats

There are two types of booster seats, and the one you choose depends on your vehicle and your child’s comfort. High-backed booster seats can help keep the shoulder seat belt strap in place, while the backless booster seats are better for lap belts. Seats should be comfortable for your child, so they do not attempt to maneuver out of place or try to make adjustments themselves. Improper use of a car or booster seat can possibly negate its protective properties.

Here are other guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Children who are 8 years old or have reached a height of 4’9” may be secured by a booster seat, but at minimum, must be secured by a safety belt.
  • Everyone 16+ years must comply with California’s Mandatory Seat Belt Law.

The CHP is also a great resource for car or booster seat installation as well as consulting for the appropriate fit and seat position for your child.

The Teenage Years & Beyond

These are often the most dreaded, most exciting, most eye-opening times of both a parent’s and a child’s life. The best time to start teaching your children is far before they even approach the teenage years.

Though you may not be actively teaching your children at all times, they are constantly observing and learning through your behaviors. Clearly, children “testing” you will indicate how far they can push your buttons, but they internalize other lessons as well.

Consider these questions:

  • How do you act or react when you’re driving?
  • Do you use your phone while driving, even though it may be illegal?
  • Are you an otherwise distracted driver?
  • Do you engage in road rage when other drivers are rude on the road?

Your behaviors and reactions set the precedent for how to behave, whether you realize it or not. Obviously, this isn’t limited to just driving or being on the road; it generalizes to all areas of your life. Words are not enough to convince anyone; children and especially teenagers pick up on this quickly. This doesn’t mean there isn’t room for mistakes, but be aware of your actions, own up to your mistakes, and make it a teachable opportunity with your children and/or teenagers and explain what could have or should have been done instead. 

Stay wise and stay prepared!

Have a serious injury and need legal advice?
Contact Howard Blau.

Check Out These References for Further Reading:

“A Comprehensive Guide on Road Safety For Parents.” SR22 Insurance. Retrieved 13 March 2018.

“Child Safety Seats.” California Highway Patrol. Retrieved 13 March 2018.