Kids and Car Safety: The Latest Dangers Involving Kids and Cars

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The United States is about to pass a new bill regarding children and car safety. The Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007 recommends that car manufacturers include several safety features that will help protect children from being killed or injured due to backovers, getting their head caught in power windows or accidentally shifting parked cars into gear, but there are still other safety issues involving cars and your kids.

Unsecured Cargo

Due to the increase in popularity of SUVs and minivans, people are carrying a lot of items openly in their car. Unfortunately, in the event of a crash or even a severe stop, unsecured cargo in your vehicle can cause serious injury and even death for you and your children. In an impact, even small items such as a cell phone sitting on your dashboard can hit your child in the head with massive impact. Heavy items such as suitcases and toolboxes resting in your open cargo area can propel forward and cause individual seats to collapse, pushing even a restrained child into the back of your seat or through the window.

The best prevention is to invest in a carrier barrier or net, or at very least strap down large items using the anchors in the cargo area. Even when your children are not in the car, secure the seat belt around their booster seat so it does not fly off and hit you in the head. Store cell phones and other small items in the glove compartment.

SUV Rollovers

If you were thinking a large SUV may make a safe family car, you may want to think again. The truth is SUVs have the highest incidence of rollovers due to having a taller center of gravity and a narrower wheel track. When the SUV rolls over the roof tends to collapse due to the heavy weight of the SUV (on average 2 tons) and the occupants to be crushed. SUVs are 27% more likely than a car to roll over, and more than 61% of fatalities that occur in SUVs are a result of rollovers.

To avoid the incidence of rollovers, try not to overload the SUV with weight – which can make it tip over more easily – and avoid speeding or making sharp turns, as a sudden turn of the steering wheel at a high speed can cause it to flip.

Minivan Door Latch

If you own a minivan, you should be concerned about the safety latch on the sliding door. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revised safety requirements to require sliding doors on minivans to have a second latch. The change came about after numerous accidents where the sliding door flew open on impact (due to a poorly designed latch) and unbelted motorists in the back seats, typically children, were thrown out of the vehicle. More than 50,000 people are ejected each year from their vehicle, with 15 percent thrown through doors. The new safety rules will go into effect September 1, 2009.

Heat

One of the greatest dangers for kids and cars is hyperthermia, which is excessive exposure to heat causing death. When a child is intentionally left in a hot car or accidentally locks himself in the car or trunk, this condition can set in as quickly as 10 minutes. Even leaving a window open slightly does not help. With the sun beating down on your car it can reach an internal temperature of up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over 360 kids in the U.S. have died since 1998 from being in a hot car or trunk. Lobby groups managed to get trunk releases built into all vehicles built in 2002 and beyond as a safety measure. It is older vehicles you still have to be concerned about, especially if children are playing near old, deserted cars. There are ways to prevent this situation from happening to your children – never leave your children in a hot car, warn your kids about the dangers of getting into the trunk of a car, always keep both your car and trunk locked, hide your car keys and get a trunk release for your car if it is older than 2002.

Other ways to ensure a safe ride with your kids is to respect the speed limits, drive slowly in bad weather, don’t drive tired or under the influence, and don’t talk on your cell phone.

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