Kurt Verlin
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Get Kids to Wear their Seatbelts

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“Wear your seatbelt” is probably one of the most common phrases you’ll ever hear in a car, whether it’s just after stepping inside the vehicle, or thirty minutes into the trip to see grandma, when you realize that the little scoundrels in the back still haven’t clicked them in (or sneakily unlocked them at some point doing the voyage).

Every year, seatbelts save between 15,000 and 20,000 lives in the United States alone. Wearing a seatbelt is a necessary part of vehicle safety, but it may not always be easy to convey that importance to children, and especially to young teenagers who haven’t developed the habit. Only 54% of high school students report wearing a seatbelt when riding with someone else, but that percentage can easily go up with some good parenting. It’s imperative that parents look after their kids from the earliest age, following the right steps and helping them develop good habits.

When they are just toddlers, always make sure to secure your kids in the right kind of seat. There are many different sorts of infant seats out there with various different strengths and weaknesses, so I’d recommend doing your own research to find which of these you find most suitable.Fortunately, Sarah Mahan here at The News Wheel has put together a complete guide to finding the right car seat, and using it correctly.

Older children between 40-100 pounds should use booster seats, which elevate their sitting position so that the shoulder belt and lap belt may be attached properly. Always strap them in yourself so that wearing a seatbelt becomes the standard car-riding experience to them, and start explaining the importance of being safely secured.

By ages 8-12, children may begin using normal seatbelts depending on their size, and should be strapping in on their own.

If you’re not sure they’re big enough, check that

  1. That their knees bend at the edge of the seat when their backs and bottoms are against the vehicle back seat,
  2. The lap belt fits across their upper thighs
  3. The shoulder belt fits across their shoulder and chest.

Only if your children pass all three of these tests should they be allowed to sit in the backseat normally with an adult seatbelt. Teach them to secure it themselves and do not start driving anywhere before they’ve fastened it. Another tried-and-true way to teach them the habit is to set a good example and always wear a seatbelt yourself.

Here is a montage of seat belt PSAs for those with teenage drivers, or kids that refuse to wear seatbelts. Some are upsetting in nature, so use your discretion.

Consistently encouraging seat belt use from infancy to the teen years will almost guarantee that wearing a seatbelt becomes second nature to your children whenever they ride in a vehicle. Not wearing one will feel unusual and uncomfortable to them, and they will naturally increase their car safety thanks to your good parenting.

Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.