There are many car safety facts and rules you should be aware of. In addition to knowing them, you should also observe these rules. Sometimes, not observing them could be pardonable. However, at other times, failure to observe them could prove deadly.
It is important that we know these rules because a growing number of drivers run foul of safety measures due to ignorance rather than willful disobedience. Let us take a look at a few car safety facts and mistakes that you should be familiar with before you even get into the car.
1. Cars Don’t Have to be Moving to be Dangerous
On some sunny days in Nigeria, the temperature inside a stationary car can become asphyxiating within a few minutes. This heat could kill a child in less than 40 minutes. Did you just suggest opening the window? This is also no guarantee for a safe temperature level.
Likewise, children may try to set the car in motion when left in a parked car without adult supervision. They can strangle themselves in the automatic windows or manage to trap themselves in the boot of the car. Therefore, you should never leave a child unattended in a car, especially in hot temperatures.
2. Airbags are Harmful to Little Children
While the saving grace for many adults involved in accidents has been airbags, the story is not so for many children, especially little ones. More often than not, airbags kill babies and toddlers when they are deployed. It is important that front-seat airbags are deactivated once children under 13 are occupying the front passenger seat.
Alternatively, children should not be allowed to occupy the passenger front seat of the car. Rather, they should take up the back seat.
3. Car Junks Can Become Shrapnel
We are sometimes used to placing pieces of stuff everywhere in the car – Coffee cup on the dashboard, laptop on the passenger seat or a pen close to the dashboard. These objects become projectiles and strike us like fragments of an exploding bomb when there is a sudden collision. That pen on the dashboard flies through the air and hits the child sitting on the passenger seat. Your car should be rid of items that can cause injury in the event of a collision.
The boot of the car should be used for things that can fly around when there is a collision. Avoid placing such objects inside the car.
4. Big Vehicles Don’t Mean Safety
There is a generally held belief that ‘the more the metal surrounding you, the better for you’ when it comes to surviving an accident. However, this is not completely true. Statistics show that older-model SUVs are likely to somersault due to a fast turn or swerve because of their higher centre of gravity when compared to other cars.
When buying an SUV, ask the dealer if the SUV has ‘electronic stability control.’ This is a technology designed to prevent the car from flipping. This is a software added to SUVs since the last few years. With the older models, it is advisable to avoid speeding, sudden turns, swerves and overloading. These are the common factors that make SUVs prone to flipping.
5. Buying the Wrong Seat
Do you remember that salesperson who assured you that the car seats are multi-functional and a one-size-fits-all product? Well, he lied to you. Before buying a particular model car seat for your child, it is advisable you trying strapping it in using a seat belt.
Don’t purchase the car seat if the tether straps don’t match up properly with the anchors on the car. Keep on searching until you find a perfect fit.
6. Wrongly Installed Seat
A car’s seat has to be tight in order to work optimally. The seat shouldn’t pull from side to side or shake backwards and forwards if it is tightly fixed. The number one mistake parents make is not properly fixing the car seat.
The danger herein is that in the event of a collision, a child in a loose seat could crash into the back of the front seat, leading to grave injuries in the face or head. Therefore, always use the latch system or a locked seat belt to secure the seat in place.
7. Too Loose Harness on Your Child
Another common mistake is failing to tighten the harness of a car seat because the child is wearing heavy clothing or you think the child would be more comfortable in a loose harness. Whatever the case, it is essential that the harness should fit tightly at all times.
A child in a loose harness is susceptible to falling out of the seat during a crash. This could translate into serious injuries for the child if he/she crashes against the passenger seat in front or any object at all. Also, you should endeavour to change the harness settings as you move from car seat to car seat.
8. Your Infant is Facing Forward too Early
It is common among parents to think that their child would be happier if they are looking ahead from their seat. As a result, they turn the seat too soon to accommodate this fantasy, not knowing it is a dangerous mistake. For the safety of the infant, parents should allow the child to stay in a rear-facing seat until they approach a year old.
Babies who have their seats tampered with in this way are prone to head and spinal injuries in their first 18 months because the bones that protect the infant’s spinal cord are still in their formative stages.
9. Rear-Facing Car Seat in the Wrong Angle
Another mistake is not placing the car seat at the correct angle. This can lead to the infant’s head flopping forward and cutting off the child’s airway in such a way that breathing becomes impossible. This is a possibility because an infant’s airway is very narrow.
10. Doing Away With Boosters Too Soon
The use of boosters has gone down tremendously, giving way to the use of car seats. Boosters are critical to an infant’s safety in the car. In the event of a crash, an infant is prone to slipping out of an ill-fitting adult shoulder belt. This can lead to head, face, abdominal or spinal injuries. Boosters ensure infant safety by raising the child to a height where the seat belt fits across the lap and chest properly.
There are many car safety facts out there that should be known. However, what is even more important, is that you should practice the little we know for a safer road.