10 Tips to Keep Kids Safe in the Car

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Whether you’re on the road all the time or generally more homebound, it’s important to know how to keep your kids safe in the car. Taking safety precautions—like removing bulky clothes before buckling in your child—and knowing your state's laws will help keep your family safe on the road.  
Of course, accidents can still happen, so make sure you have the proper car insurance for your family vehicles. Compare plans on the broker app Jerry to get the best option for you.
Some child car safety tips—using the right car seat, for example—are widely followed, but other tips may not be as commonplace. Fortunately, Jerry has compiled some rules of thumb to keep your kids as safe as possible when they are in and around cars. 
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Safety tips for inside your car

1. Purchase the right car seat for your child’s age and size 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises that children three and under should be seated in a rear-facing car seat. The added protection in this position helps to protect the fragile heads and necks of infants and toddlers.
When your child no longer fits in the rear-facing position (around 3 years old), they should transition to a forward-facing car seat—which is more appropriate for their size.
After they outgrow a forward-facing car seat, children should use a booster seat. Most kids transfer to a booster seat between the ages of four and seven or when they have reached the top height or weight to safely fit in their booster seat. 
Children often graduate from the booster seat to using just a seat belt between the ages of 9 and 13. Make sure your child properly fits in a seat belt before moving them from the booster seat.
Remember, all children under 14 should ride in the backseat, regardless of size. 

2. Always buckle up

Seat belts are essential to car safety for any vehicle passenger—adults or children. Whether you’re driving cross country or driving to the corner store, it’s important that all adults in your car model good seat belt behavior and always buckle up (it’s also the law). 
That said, as noted above, some smaller children may need a car seat or booster seat as the seat belt could be dangerous for a child that is too small. If this is the case, the seat belt can be used to secure a car seat, or a booster seat can help your child fit the seat belt. 

3. Be mindful of heatstroke

Cars can get very hot when they are off and all the doors and windows are raised, creating the perfect environment for heatstroke. 
Because of this, it is important to never leave your kids in the car alone as this environment is incredibly dangerous for children. Dozens of children die every year from heatstroke after being left inside locked cars. 
Even if you are just running into the grocery store for a quick errand, always take your child out of the car and bring them in with you. 

4. Skip the backseat snacks

While it may seem like a good idea to keep kids distracted on the road, avoid providing them snacks while you’re driving. 
Eating in the car poses an added danger for children because of the increased risk of a child choking on a bumpy road. Additionally, rear-facing car seats make it difficult to see if your child is having a problem swallowing.
To keep kids engaged, consider instead having them play with a (non-choking hazard) toy or do another activity during the ride. 

5. Remove winter coats before strapping kids into car seats

Take off large items of clothing before you strap your child into their car seat or booster seat. The extra material can cause the harness straps to be too loose, which would mean your child is not properly secured in the event of an accident.

6. Drive with your phone out of reach

One of the biggest causes of accidents is distracted driving, and using a phone while driving increases your risk of making an error in judgment—especially if you’re texting. Plus, it’s illegal to text while you drive in most states
To make sure you protect your family and don’t drive distracted, leave your phone where you can’t access it and remove the temptation of texting.
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Safety tips for kids around cars

1. Take precautions in parking lots and neighborhood streets

While many people think about safety around busy streets, people often underestimate the dangers posed by drivers in parking lots and on neighborhood streets. Drivers may not be as careful or go as slow as they should considering the presence of children. 
Teach your children to look both ways before crossing a street, and hold your child’s hand in any parking lot or while crossing the street. 

2. Teach children the signs of a moving car

It may seem basic, but we often take for granted that we, as adults, know the signs of an oncoming vehicle. 
Prepare your children for making safe decisions around cars by teaching them the signs of moving vehicles—especially when a vehicle is backing up. Kids may recognize that a car can move forward, but they may not recognize brake lights or beeping sounds (from large trucks) as a sign that a vehicle is moving.
It’s also a good idea to teach your kids to never cross behind a car that is on because it is harder for the driver to see small children if they are backing up. 

3. Set rules and instill safe habits

Have your children memorize rules about being around vehicles
While many parents teach kids to memorize what street light colors mean or to “stop, look, and listen” while crossing the road, there are more habits to instill in your children. 
For example, you should not allow them to play near cars, even parked ones. Moreover, keep them from playing inside your parked vehicle because child locks can cause them to become trapped.  
Key Takeaway: Preparation is key in avoiding danger around cars

4. Know the car seat laws in your state

State laws differ on how drivers need to secure their young passengers with car seats. Here are the car seat laws for most states in the United States. 
Key Takeaway: Car seat laws are different in every state, so it’s smart to check your state’s laws before you get on the road. 

Finding cheap car insurance

Protecting your children is an important part of being a parent. Now that you know how to keep your kids protected in the car, be sure to protect your car as well. Choose the best and most affordable car insurance plan available on the broker app Jerry
It only takes 45 seconds to sign up, and Jerry will present you quotes from over 50 top insurers, so you know you’re always getting the best price for the coverage you need.  
“My past tickets were making it hard to find affordable insurance. With Jerry, I went from paying $450/month to $273/month. They took care of everything—such a relief!” —Josephine R.
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