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June 21, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

4 Key Strategies for Car Safety With Kids

The summer is forecasted to be super hot and kids are all around us. Brush up car safety with them!

From the window by my treadmill at the Y, I see lots of parents and little kids coming and going. Sometimes a youngster darts across the parking lot by himself to the Y doors; sometimes a teenager drives too fast past those doors.

Keeping kids safe in and around cars always matters, but in the summer, when lots of kids are rushing to pools and enjoying their freedom, it’s hard for parents to keep track of them. Without constant mindfulness, accidents can happen. Car safety for kids matters; it’s serious stuff, because NO child needs to be the victim of an accident if you can help it. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with car safety for kids for the summer of ’24 — and preach it!

Car Safety With Kids

1.) Check the Back Seat Before Getting Out

How do people leave a kid in the car and forget them? With a change in routine it can accidentally happen. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that the U.S. will see above average temps this summer. And according to data from Kids and Car Safety advocacy group, on average 38 children dies each year from heatstroke inside a car. While the 2021 infrastructure law included a requirement for all automakers to install an audio and visual rear seat reminder alert beginning in 2025, most automakers have already done it. But even a driver reminder system can fail an adult in a hurry and older cars don’t have them. Assuming it’ll never happen to you is false. Science shows even the best of parents can forget; the human brain goes on autopilot when we do routine tasks, like driving to work every morning. Keep your children safe from hot car accidents.

Stay alert, especially if your routine changes, such as someone else driving the baby to childcare. But also know that about 25 percent of children who die hot car deaths enter a car on their own, so always lock your car when it’s in the driveway. If your child was with you and suddenly is not (such as at a youth soccer game), check your car first.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
Tips to Help Avoid Hot-Car Accidents:


— Never leave your child alone inside the car, even for a minute.

— Use cellphone or computer reminders to make sure children
have been dropped off at the desired locations.

— If your child is missing, check your car first.

— Teach your children to never play inside vehicles to prevent them
from accidentally locking themselves inside.

— Lock all doors and windows to any cars on your property.

— Call 911 if you see a child locked inside a car.

— Look before you lock: Always check the back seats of your car before you lock it and walk away.

— Have a plan with your childcare provider: If your child does not  show up to day care without prior notice, someone should call to locate the child. Have your childcare provider call if your child is
more than 10 minutes late.

2) Hold Hands in Parking Lots

This age-old safety tip is proof that holding hands works. Children who aren’t old enough to understand that they need to stay by your side in a parking lot should always be required to hold your hand until they reach the safety of the sidewalk. If you have older kids, they can hold the younger child’s hand. In any event, don’t let little ones run around willy nilly.

Whenever you have kids who are mobile on their own, tell them to wait for you by your car door so you can all hold hands and walk together. Don’t grow ambivalent! Teach older kids to hold hands with younger ones.

3. Don’t Let Kids Get Out of Cars on the Street Side

You know what it’s like when kids are antsy to get somewhere. They will hop out of your car fast. But kids should ONLY get out of your car on the sidewalk side or they risk cars driving swiftly toward them on the street.

Teach your kids only to get out of a parked car on the sidewalk side.

4. Teach Kids to Look Left, Right, Left

It’s never too early to start teaching safe crossing habits. Use the “look left, right, left” technique since it’s specific and practical. Whenever crossing a road, you should first look left, then right, but then always look left a second time to make sure a car hasn’t come up while your head was turned. Practice this with toddlers while they’re holding your hand as you cross the street, so when they’re old enough to cross alone, they’ll be more than prepared.

Whenever you are with your child and intending to cross a street, talk about how to do it safely and do it.





About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.