Do you always buckle up your kids?

“Well, of course, I do! Why wouldn’t I?”

I know, this is probably what you’re saying right now – and what I would answer if asked that same question.

Yet, I recently stumbled upon an alarming survey of 1,000 parents and caregivers by Safe Kids Worldwide (financed by General Motors Foundation). It appears that some of them do not always take the time to ensure their children are safely secured in their vehicles. In fact, one in four respondents admitted to having driven without their child buckled up in a car seat or booster seat.

Why? They cited numerous reasons including:

Not driving far (52%);
Missing booster or car seat (40%);
In a rush (39%);
Holding the child (38%);
Fussy and complaining (34%);
Travelling overnight (19%);
“Rewarding” the child (15%).

I have a hard time imagining someone intentionally leaving their child unbuckled. Sure, you can forget to check from time to time (I, for one, plead guilty; I drove out of the parking spot when my 4-year-old alerted me that they were not buckled properly), but to do it consciously?

I’m not one to judge people unless I personally witness what they did or didn’t do, but this really irks me. One of my two older sons is 11, stands 4’1”, and weighs 95 lbs yet he’s still not allowed to ride shotgun in my minivan. Maybe I’m overprotective, but unapologetically so. When you know that 60% of crashes involving children occur 10 minutes or less from home, why would you take unnecessary risks?

“Yeah, but that survey was conducted in the U.S.”
You’re right. Heck, two states don’t have strong laws in place to protect older kids in cars (Florida and South Dakota). However, are you so sure these numbers don’t reflect our habits here in Canada, too? Despite a number of educational campaigns over the years, not to mention child-seat clinics everywhere, I’ve seen my fair share of children left unbuckled in the back seat. Once, on the highway, I even passed by a mother with a baby in her lap!

This will always bear repeating: Kids must be strapped to an appropriate booster or car seat at all times, based on their weight and size. Those few extra seconds it takes to secure them properly might just end up saving their lives!

The full results of the survey, as well as testimonies, can be found at Safe Kids Worldwide.

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