I like to think I’m a good driver. I abide by the speed limit, use my turn signal, stow my cell phone, and don’t drive when weather conditions are compromised. I have never been in an accident as a driver and I have not received any citations. I pay attention to my surroundings and limit distractions.
So why am I so worried about keeping my kids safe in the car?
We hear it all the time. “I’m a good driver so I don’t need to worry about car seat safety.” In theory, this is an excellent idea. In practice, however, being a good driver is not enough to protect yourself or your precious cargo.
There are many steps you can take to be a good driver. You can be aware of your surroundings, turn your phone off so you aren’t distracted by it. You can not drive while tired or with your mind on other things. You can stay home when the weather conditions make the roads unpredictable. You can do these things, but is everyone on the road taking those same precautions?
In 2009, there were 33,808 accident related fatalities. 10, 591 of those involved speed. That includes not following the posted speed limit, or driving too fast for the conditions. While you may be a law abiding citizen, is the person in the car behind you? Is everyone on the road during that blizzard going to drive accordingly? These are all things that we don’t have control over.
16% of those accidents in 2009 were a result of “distraction,” distraction being anything that takes the person’s attention away from the road. That cell phone you stowed at the beginning of your trip is fantastic! But that person that just ran that red light because they were checking their email doesn’t seem to have the same safe driving values as you do.
The most startling statistic of all is that 32% of all fatal accidents are caused by drunk driving. This one hits me very close to home. When I was a young child, a close friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver. Her parents were “good drivers.” They were on their way to church, when a drunk driver ran through a stop sign and hit their car, killing her instantly. You can be the safest driver in the world, with a perfect record. That doesn’t change the fact that Bob is coming home from the bar after having too many drinks, and doesn’t see the light that changed to red.
There are steps you can take to make sure that, despite the unpredicitibility that being on the road gives, your child is protected.
- Make sure your child is in the right seat for their age, weight and height.
- Make sure the seat is used properly.
- Visit a Child Passenger Safety Technician. You can find one here.
Accidents are called accidents for a reason. No one intends for them to happen. Take the steps to keep you and your children safe before an accident happens.
Statistics retrieved from: US Census Bureau: Transportation: Motor Vehicle Accidents and Fatalities