More children are dying in car accidents than any other kind of accidents. By Correctly using and fitting child restraints, booster seats or child safety harnesses can substantially reduce the risk of serious injury or death. It’s never safe to leave your child unrestrained in the car, even for short distances. What you need to know Most accidents occur close to home, and most kids are hurt in the back seat. Child restraints and booster seats are more appropriate than seatbelts for young children. Fitting and using an approved child restraint or booster seat properly is the most important thing you can do to keep your child safe in a moving car. Never move off in the car until everyone is properly restrained. Promoting car safety for your child Young children learn most by watching the grown-ups around them. If you want your child to behave safely, you can set a good example by always wearing your own seat belts. Other important safety guidelines include the following: Children under four years shouldn’t travel in the front seat of a vehicle that has two or more rows of seats. Children over four and under seven years shouldn’t travel in the front seat of a vehicle unless all other seats in the row(s) behind are also occupied by children under seven years. Don’t drive unless all seat belts are done up. If your child removes the straps or undoes the buckle, stop the car and do up the belt again. Explain what you’re doing. If you need to give your child a reward or incentive for leaving the belt or buckle alone, it’s best to use one that will distract your child’s attention and last until you reach your destination. Never drive while the belt is twisted or undone. Your child should always keep arms, legs and head inside the car when it’s moving or parked on the side of the road. You can also activate the childproof locks so your child can’t get out when the car is moving or stationary. Loose items can fly about in a crash, so keep loose items in the glove box, the boot or behind the cargo barrier. When traveling with an empty booster seat in the car, fasten the seat belt around it to prevent the booster seat from flying and injuring someone. You should also restrain any pets traveling with you. Around cars and roads You can teach your child about safety around cars. For example, always make sure your child is supervised by a grown-up around roads until at least the age of 10. Also establish the habit of getting your child in and out of the car from the passenger side, away from traffic. Keeping your child happy in the car Driving with bored and unhappy children in the car can make it harder for you to concentrate and drive safely. The following tips might help: Have a chat while you drive. Talking helps pass the time and distracts your child. Discuss what you’ll be doing when you arrive, point out sights through the window, have a sing-a-long or recite some nursery rhymes. Make sure your child can see you by placing the car seat where you can see each other, if possible. If your child can see your face, she’s less likely to get bored or feel lonely. The best place for the car seat is in the middle of the back seat. Praise your child for good behavior such as not wriggling out of seat belts or harnesses, not distracting the driver and not playing with the locks. Mention your child’s good behavior several times during the journey. Provide plenty of safe distractions,such as CDs or audio books to listen to, and soft hand-held games to play with. Snacks and drinks are also a good idea. Heat and cars It’s true: cars turn into ovens very quickly, even on cool or overcast days. Never leave your child or pet alone in the car, especially in hot weather. The temperature inside a car on a hot day can rise to dangerous levels very quickly. ** Leaving your child alone in a car for long periods is extremely dangerous ** You might like to consider the following facts: Overheated cars can cause children to suffer rapid dehydration, hyperthermia (heatstroke), suffocation and death. Winding the window down 5 cm or so has little effect on rising heat. The colour of the seats and interior has no effect on rising heat. Large cars heat up just as fast as small cars. The younger the child, the greater his sensitivity to heatstroke, and the faster he’ll dehydrate. Traveling tips for hot weather The following tips can help keep your child comfortable and safe when you’re driving in hot conditions: Give your child plenty of water to drink during car trips. Dress him/her in cool, comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Check the temperature of car seats, harnesses and seat belts before your child gets into the car. Hot metal, plastic or leather can burn your child. If surfaces are hot, cover them with a damp cloth and then help your child into the car. Don’t loosen your child’s harness in summer – it must fit snugly whether he’s awake or asleep. Stick visors and shades to the windows, or hang a damp towel over the window (but check it doesn’t stop the driver from seeing the road from side or rear windows) to protect your child from the sun.But make sure not to block the circulation of air into the cabin. On long journeys, stop every few hours say two hours so everyone can get out of the car and have a stretch. This includes babies, who can roll around on a rug on the ground. It’s sensible to plan driving during the cooler times of day. Cool your car as much as possible before you let your child get in.