Here in the good ol’ United States of America, we spend a lot of time in the car. It makes sense when you think about it: we take our cars on road trips, drive the kids to sports practice and painting lessons, and occasionally deliver the kids’ forgotten lunches (which in my mom’s case was not very occasional). In fact, a study completed by the American Automobile Association reports that the average American spends more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year.
Despite all this time spent on the road, driving isn’t always the safest way to get around. The CDC reports that over 100 people die in car crashes every day—and the increasing prevalence of distracted driving due to devices like smartphones isn’t helping that number go down anytime soon.
Thankfully, there are a ton of cool safety features in cars that make it easy to keep both us and our kids safe as we drive. Without further ado, here are five of the most important automobile features that promote children’s safety in the car.
1. Child Lock on Rear Doors
Have you ever taken a ride in the backseat of a car, only to be unable to open the door when it’s time to get out? If the door stayed stuck even after you double and triple checked that it was unlocked, you might’ve been the victim of child lock.
While it might be frustrating for us adults, the ability to child lock your car’s rear doors plays an important role in protecting your children as you drive. You set this lock by flipping a switch on the rear door and, when child lock is activated, doors can only be opened from the outside. As such, it prevents back seat passengers from opening their doors themselves, whether the car is speeding down the freeway or waiting in a drive-thru. It’s primarily beneficial for children with excited fingers.
2. Sun Shades on the Windows
There’s nothing I love more than soaking up some sun—but babies can’t say the same. According to KidsHealth, babies and younger kids “should be kept out of the sun whenever possible.” This is because younger skin is especially sensitive to sunlight and can burn extremely easily. You’d think that the car is a safe place to hide from the sun, but that’s not always the case. When you’re driving, it’s difficult to shelter your kiddos from stray UV rays that slide through the windows. That’s where sun shades come in!
Many minivans and larger cars feature built-in shades that can be pulled up over the windows, preventing sunlight from shining directly onto kids in the back seat. If your car doesn’t come with sun shades, they’re easy to find online. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even create your own sunshade using stray fabric and string.
3. Rear Seat Mirrors
It’s not easy to keep an eye on your kids when you’re driving. It’s unsafe to turn around, and while your rearview mirror might keep you clued in to a bit of the back seat action, it doesn’t always let you capture the whole picture. This is especially the case when you’re chauffeuring a young child in a rearward facing car seat. Enter: the rear seat mirror.
Rear seat mirrors like this one are a great car feature that let you keep an eye on your kids from the driver’s seat. Just strap it on to the back seat’s headrest and adjust it so you can use it to see your child’s reflection in your own rearview mirror. This simple panel of glass prevents accidents by ensuring that you don’t need to turn away from the road to check on your child. It also makes sure you don’t miss out on any impromptu dance parties your little one decides to have.
4. Passenger Airbag Deactivation
Airbags are an absolute necessity for any adult in a car—but they do more harm than good when it comes to kids. While they protect adults and teens in the case of an accident, the sudden impact of an airbag is extremely dangerous for kids whose bones and muscles are still developing. Children under thirteen should not travel in the front seat, but on the off chance that this is unavoidable, their safety demands that you turn the airbag off. Thankfully, most cars make this pretty easy.
Many newer cars feature sensors that automatically turn off the passenger airbag when the front seat is occupied by someone below a certain weight. Some older cars even have this capability (including my old 2005 CRV), so check if your car does. Otherwise, you may need to find the passenger airbag deactivation switch.
5. Old-Fashioned Seat Belts
You probably saw this one coming, but if not—surprise! The last (but certainly not least) safety feature that we’re going to talk about is the old-fashioned seat belt.
Whether your child is still in a booster seat or ready for the seat belt alone, buckling them up before you hit the road is the best way to guarantee their safety in the car. Seat belts stop kids from climbing around while the vehicle is in motion, secure them to the seat when there’s a sudden stop, and may even save their lives in the case of a crash. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that seatbelts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017!
Despite the obvious benefits, your child might refuse to wear their seatbelt. This may be due to discomfort or the perception that they’re unnecessary. If this is the case with your kiddo, ask them why they don’t want to buckle up. Listen to them, then take some time to explain why seat belts are important. Don’t forget to be a good example to your child about proper seat belt usage—after all, many kids learn by example. If this still doesn’t work, you may need to put on your strict mama or papa bear hat, letting them know that the car doesn’t scuttle until everyone is buckled.
Safety in the Car and Beyond with Troomi!
We spend a lot of time in the car, but we spend even more time on our phones. That’s why we at Troomi are as dedicated to helping your kids stay as safe online as they are in the car. Kid-friendly smartphones from Troomi Wireless are like digital seatbelts—they feature strong security, emphasize Internet safety, and help your kiddos learn how to prioritize real life. Click here to learn a bit more about how Troomi can give you and your kids some valuable peace of mind, both in the car and beyond.