What you need to know about car seats, driveway and road safety
Car-related accidents are one of the leading causes of child deaths and injuries.
Safety precautions including wearing seat belts and exercising caution near roads and driveways can significantly reduce these deaths and injuries.
As an au pair, you must be fastidious about road safety and wearing correctly-fitting seat belts when riding in a car.
It’s important that you set a good example when driving by always wearing a seatbelt.
Children always need to be sitting in an age-appropriate car seat with seat belts or straps that fit correctly. Not only is this for the children’s safety–but it is the law! Hefty fines can be given to adults driving with children in inappropriate car seats.
Different countries have different laws and regulations about the types of car seats and the ages for which they are used. Please discuss this with your host family and be sure that any car you drive is up-to-date with car seat installation.
Every country has different laws – get to know the car seat rules where you live. Here are some general guidelines:
A child under 6 months of age must travel in a rearward facing, approved child restraint.
A child aged 6 months to under 4 years to travel in either a rearward facing OR forward facing approved child restraint. The type of restraint will depend on the child’s size.
A child aged 4 years to under 7 years to travel in either a forward facing approved child restraint with a built in 5 point harness, or an approved booster seat. The type of restraint will depend on the child’s size.
A child aged 7 years to under 16 years must travel in either an approved booster seat or an adult seat belt. The type of restraint will depend on the child’s size.
A person 16 years and over will travel in an adult seat belt.
For more information on general international standards, click Safe Kids has some great information
How do I know if the seat belt fits properly?
When restraining a child in a car seat, it is important that is fits the size of the child
Harness belts go over both shoulders and clip into a buckle between the child’s legs
Seat belts should cross from the shoulder, over the chest and lap.
Seat belts should not cut across a child’s throat or be too loose that a child could wiggle out of it
Crossing the road
It is essential that you practice the following rules when crossing the road with children:
Children need to be with an adult when crossing the road
Always stay together and hold hands
WALK, do not run across the road
Look both ways twice before crossing the road
Cross at a crosswalk or light whenever possible.
Here are some important lessons from RACQ about teaching children to cross the road safely:
If taking a bus, tram or train with children, it is important to stay together.
When waiting on the roadside, stand still together, no running or pushing near the road.
Wait for the bus, tram or train to come to a complete stop before stepping on.
Sit down when on public transportation, no running around the inside of the vehicle.
Leaving a child in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, can be a fatal decision.
Cars can get very hot, very quickly – always take everyone out when you are exiting a vehicle, even if it’s just for a quick errand.
When driving, ensure children in the back seat have a cool breeze on them.
If you ever see a child locked in a hot car, call your local emergency number immediately.
Driveway safety- Supervise, Separate and See
Every year, children are seriously injured or killed by cars in driveways. Most driveway run overs occur in the driveway of the child’s own home, or in a friend or relative’s driveway. The driver is usually a parent, relative or family friend.
“In 85% of cases, the driver does not know that a child is close to the vehicle; they think they are being looked after elsewhere.” Source; Kidsafe Victoria
Cars have blind spots – it is not always possible to see a child in a driveway if he or she is below the field of vision.
You always need to check where children are when you get in the car and in drive in and out of a driveway
Cars with safety cameras or motion detectors were designed to present this tragedy, so use those features if your car has them!
It’s a good idea to toot your car’s horn before starting to back up out of a driveway – this will alert those around you that you are starting to drive
When starting a vehicle, it is critical that you know the location of all children.
Never let children play on the driveway ever!
If you are saying goodbye to a parent or waiting for someone to arrive in the driveway:
Make sure children wait at the front door ideally until a car is safely in or out of the driveway.
Never let a child out alone to greet someone coming into a driveway.
Always hold a child’s hand until a car is stationary or out of the driveway.
Always complete a “Circle of Safety” before getting into a car wherever you are. That means take the long way around to the drivers seat to make sure there are no people, animals or other obstructions in your way before you drive out.
Parking and getting kids out of cars
Think it’s simple? Well it could be but to be safe follow these basic principals of common sense:
Imagine you had 3 kids with you the same age as Ben, Matilda and Ozzie.
Always take out eldest child first to supervise the others.
Next, take out the pram and then put the baby in the pram secured on a footpath in view.
Always take the toddler or young child last who is least aware of road rules and particularly if they are younger than Matilda who could run off.
Always make sure all children have hands on the pram.
Getting back into the car
Same but reverse order. Toddler in first. Even if you close the door and don’t strap him in at first to ensure you get the baby in the car as quickly as possible.
Parallel parking is great as you have a whole footpath where you can supervise the children you are taking in and out of the car. This should be your preference.
Parking the car nose out
This should be your second preference especially if you have a pram with you as the pram can easily come out straight to the footpath. Car doors then open up closing off the entrance to the road.
Parking the car nose in
Whilst this is common, you should really try to avoid this option. Imagine taking the pram out on the road end pushing it through other cars parked alongside you. Kids will come out of the car facing the road!
And now watch this important message about staying safe in driveways
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