My dad enjoys telling me stories of how, as a kid, I loved sitting in front of our car, on my mom’s lap; how excited I was to see the open road before me; and how I always felt so safe with Mom’s arms wrapped around me. Eventually, when I had my own child, I let my son experience the same thing - even allowing him to “drive” the car slowly, with me behind the wheel. Until one day, I found myself trying to calm him down while nursing a nasty bump on his forehead. Needless to say, that was the last time I ever let him sit with me behind the wheel again.
Sit down, you’re rocking the boat While inside a car, letting your child sit on your lap can fool you into thinking he’s safe. You think your arms can substitute for his seat belt, but you are only putting your child’s life in danger by doing so. In case of a crash, your arms are not strong enough to keep a hold of your child. Try to watch a video of crash test dummies and take note of the whiplash that occurs when a car meets an accident. By letting your child sit on your lap, you are not keeping him safe but inducing more harm. The car may not crush him, but your body will.
Fasten your seatbelts Most of us strap-in our children in the car using the seatbelt. But notice how the seatbelt sometimes rests on your child’s face or on his neck, and how he tends to slip the shoulder strap under his arm. Other times, your tot just leaves the lap belt on and places the shoulder strap behind him. These measures are not enough to keep him safe. With only the lap belt locked on your child’s body, his upper body does not have any support to keep him in place.
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“Usually, if your child can wear a seatbelt without having it go over his face or neck, then he is ready to use this device. The rule of thumb is that kids nine years old and above can wear seatbelts, but children 12 years and below should not stay in the front seat as the air bag can cause serious injury because of the speed and impact of its deployment,” says JP Tuason, multi-awarded race car driver, road safety advocate, president of Tuason Racing School, and dad to Arthur, 9, and Aly, 5.
There is a proper way to use the seatbelt. It must go across the middle of the child’s chest and shoulder and not across his neck. The lap belt must go on top of his thighs and not rest on his stomach. And always be the one to strap-in your child to make sure that the seatbelt is locked and positioned properly.