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Risky Rides: One in Five Parents Endangers Kids in Cars

One in five parents of young children admits “bending the rules” when carpooling, letting children ride without car seats and even seatbelts.
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One in five parents of young children admits to “bending the rules” when carpooling, letting children ride without car seats, booster seats and sometimes even seatbelts, a new report finds.

Even more concerning, three times as many parents — a full 61 percent — said they had seen other carpooling parents “bending the rules,” according to a report released Tuesday by Safe Kids Worldwide. The report, which was funded by the General Motors Foundation, was based on an online survey of 1,000 parents of children ages 4 to 10.

The real number of carpooling parents who fail to use restraints is unknown.

“Somewhere between 20 percent and 60 percent lies the truth,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “And for those of us who are parents, we probably will admit that on occasion we all bend the rules about something at some point.”

But you should be uncompromising when it comes to the safety of your kids, Carr said. A surprising number of parents — one in four — admits failing to buckle kids in for every ride.

“A lot of people will say it’s because it’s a short ride or the child’s alone with me in the car,” she added. “You don’t start your day planning to have an accident. You never know when it’s going to happen. So make sure you’re secured and that everyone in the car is safely secured.”

Carr suggests that carpooling parents plan together ahead of time to make sure every child will have a seat belt, and, if appropriate, a car seat or booster seat.

Current recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for booster seat fit:

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: Your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.