Child Passenger Safety Tips

Children are the most precious cargo any driver will ever transport. In a high-traffic, a heavily populated area like Houston, drivers must be particularly vigilant about passengers’ safety. Brian White and his associates encounter seriously injured people every day, some of whom witnessed car accident fatalities. White and his associates never want any of those fatalities or injuries to apply to young people. With this in mind, the firm offers several child passenger safety tips for drivers in Houston and other Texas cities.

Know the Law

Before you get behind the wheel with a child or teen, know the laws of your state and city. Never use your cell phone or another device in a school zone. If you’re a school bus driver, never use your phone on the bus while children are present. All children under 4’9” must be secured in a proper car or booster seat. If you’re unsure what kind of car seat to use, your local DMV will have specifics available. Children, especially those eight and under, should ride in the backseat.

All passengers inside your vehicle must wear a seat belt. Operating a vehicle without one can incur fines up to $200. Allowing children to ride without seat belts incurs different fines depending on the child’s age. For a child 15 or older, the fine is relatively low – $25-$50. However, the fines can quadruple for younger children. You may be fined as much as $200 for any passenger under 17 riding without a seat belt.

Many Texas drivers use flatbed trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles besides standard passenger cars. If you’re one of these drivers, know the laws applicable to your vehicle. For example, Texas prohibits children and teens from riding in the back of a flatbed pickup truck; fines can be as high as $200, assessed to the driver. Additionally, Texas has specific motorcycle laws in place. Motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets, but they are required to be 21 or older and carry a health insurance plan. Motorcyclists must complete an accredited operation and safety course and will likely be ticketed and fined for not wearing a helmet, despite the absence of pertinent requirements.

Take Advantage of Inspections

If you cannot afford regular car seat inspections, charitable organizations like Safe Kids Worldwide hold inspection events frequently around the country. Take your car or booster seats to one of these events, where the knowledgeable staff will inspect them for free. Inspection station staff members can also teach new parents or caregivers how to safely transport children and set up a car or booster seat. For older children, Safe Kids Worldwide and similar organizations offer lessons on the importance of buckling up and how to ride in a vehicle safely.

Never Leave Your Child in a Hot Car

Most parents would never purposely leave their kids in a hot car, but it can happen. Sudden changes in routine, hurried drivers, and traveling with several passengers are all risk factors. Even on a cloudy day, children left in a hot car can get heatstroke, especially in cities like Houston where summer temperatures get as high as 94 degrees. This can make the inside of a car more than 100 degrees on a hot, sunny day. Remember that a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Once a child’s body temperature reaches 107, he or she will die.

Always double-check your vehicle before locking it. If you’re traveling with several children, do a headcount before you leave the parking area, and encourage them to use a buddy system to let you know who may be missing.

For legal questions involving the safety of your children, no question is too small. Contact the lawyers at Brian White and Associates to answer concerns regarding children involved in accidents.