It's not just parents of teens who have to worry about the dangers of automobile accidents. A recent study conducted by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia reveals that car crashes are the leading cause of death for tweens and teens.
Your son or daughter may have years to go before it's time to apply for a learner's permit, but risk factors for tween passengers still exist. It's important to know that the most dangerous risk factor for tween passengers is riding in a car with a teen driver. Other dangerous circumstances include riding in a car with a driver who is drunk, riding in a car with a male teen driver, and riding in a car on the weekends, according to the study.
For parents of tweens it's obvious that the best way to keep your child safe is to only allow him to ride in vehicles with experienced (and older) drivers. Other risk factors can be avoided with a little common sense. Parents of tweens have to be vigilant about enforcing the use of seat belts with their children. Another study conducted by the Automotive Coaltion for Traffic Safety found that half of all tweens do not always wear seat belts, and many sit in the front seat of their car, another risk factor.
Other safety measures include:
- Walk around your car completely before getting in to check for children, toys, bikes, scooters, or pets.
- Tweens should be taught that drivers are not looking for them, and won't notice them until it's too late. It's up to your child to be aware.
- Demonstrate to your tween how difficult it is for a driver to see them when they are behind or near a vehicle.
- Discuss the importance of never playing or hiding in the trunk of a car.
- Cars manufactured after 2001 have a "glow in the dark" trunk release. Make sure your child knows how to spot the release and use it.
- If your tween doesn't know how to use a cell phone (hey, it could happen) show them how to call 911 in the case of an accident.
- Your child should know how to properly use the lap part of the seat belt (it should fit across the hips and upper legs, not the stomach).
- Between the ages of 8 and 12, your child will graduate from a booster seat to an adult seat. The transition is generally made when the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall and 80 to 100 pounds. Smaller tweens or tweens who are late to mature will be embarrassed at having to use a booster seat when their friends have already left them behind. As difficult as it may be to keep them in a booster, it's important to do so. And in many states, it's the law.
- Wear your seatbelt, too. When adult drivers are not restrained, 91 percent of the fatalities in the 8 to 15 year age group are also unrestrained.