Protect your children on the road: 3 car seat safety tips

Do you know which type of car seat would keep your child safest in a crash?

When used properly, car seats greatly reduce a child’s risk of being killed in a motor vehicle accident. However, nearly half of car and booster seats are not used or installed correctly. Keep your little ones safe on the road by following these car seat safety tips.

3 Car Seat Safety Tips

1. Choose the right car seat.

No child should ride in a forward-facing seat before they turn two. Ideally, children should remain in a rear-facing seat until they outgrow the height and weight limit designated by the seat’s manufacturer. Convertible and all-in-one seats typically offer higher weight and height limits, which can help delay the transition.

car seat safety

Graphic courtesy of safecar.gov.

Not sure which option is safest for your child? Use this tool to find the right fit. Follow this checklist if you’re purchasing a used car seat or accepting a hand-me-down from a friend or relative.

2. Be sure the seat is correctly installed.

Aside from choosing the wrong type of seat or switching a child to a front-facing model too soon, one of the most common mistakes parents make is failing to use the seat belt or LATCH system properly when securing the car seat. SafeCar.gov, powered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, offers comprehensive video instructions on the proper way to install each type of car seat.

3. Register your child’s car seat.

Even if you’ve purchased the safest model and installed it correctly, a defective car seat could still put your child in serious danger. Opt to receive recall notifications for the models of car seats used by your family to minimize the chances of a defect going unnoticed.

Consider having your car seat inspected by a professional to ensure your child is as safe as possible when you hit the road. Contact your local hospital or fire department, find a trained technician in your area or attend an upcoming car seat checkup event.

Back to School: Staying Safe on the Road

school safetySummer is quickly drawing to a close, and children of all ages are preparing to head back to school. Many health and safety concerns accompany the start of each school year for parents and students, but with the increase of school buses and teens on the road, the traffic-related risks affect everyone. Follow these tips to stay safe on the road as classes get underway.

School Year Traffic Safety Tips

Pay attention to school zones and cross walks.

Whether you’ll be dropping your children off at school or passing through a school zone on your commute, plan ahead for changes in traffic patterns. Give yourself extra time to accommodate reduced speed limits in these areas, and be especially cautious when driving through cross walks frequently used by students. If possible, find an alternate route to avoid the heavy concentration of traffic altogether. National Safety Council offers more tips for safely navigating school traffic.

Know how to share the road with buses.

Sharing the road with a school bus can be frustrating, especially if you run into one on a route with frequent stops. However, failing to stop for a school bus can result in harsh legal penalties or, worse, the injury of a child. All motorists should know how and when to pass a school bus, what the different types of lights represent and when it is legally required to stop. Brush up on the basics using our guide.

Be aware of increased risks for teen drivers.

Establish rules and expectations with your teen driver before the start of the school year. Passengers are an often-overlooked risk factor for inexperienced drivers, and should be kept to a minimum whenever possible. In Ohio, newly licensed drivers are limited by law to one non-family member passenger. Distracted driving is another major problem area for teens. Set a good example by refraining from texting or talking on the phone behind the wheel.

Help prevent hot car deaths.

Those who have or care for young children will probably be forced to adjust to new schedules and travel routes in the coming weeks, and changes in routine are one of the contributing factors often cited by caretakers who have forgotten a child in a vehicle. Effective Aug. 31, a new Good Samaritan law protects Ohioans who take action to rescue a child from a hot car. Learn about the steps you can take to prevent these tragedies.

Despite these risks, the start of the school year is a very exciting time. Enjoy your final days of summer, and stay safe once classes begin!

How can parents, caregivers and the public prevent hot car deaths?

Ohio will soon join the ranks of states taking action to prevent hot car deaths. Earlier this summer, Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 215 into law. Effective August 31, good Samaritans who break into a vehicle to save a minor or animal from overheating are protected from civil liability and damages.

It’s a common misconception that hot car deaths are always the result of negligence, and many fail to take proper precautions because they don’t believe they would ever put their child at risk. According to neuroscientist David Diamond, changes in routine, lack of sleep and stress can cause a parent or caregiver to forget a child is in the vehicle with them.

“A universal observation I have made is that each parent’s brain appears to have created the false memory that he or she had brought the child to daycare,” he explains. “Parents went about their routine activities, which even included telling others that they needed to leave work on time to retrieve their child from daycare. Having this ‘false memory’ caused them to be oblivious to the fact that their child had remained in the car all day.”

Diamond claims none of the parents he studied demonstrated an act of willful recklessness or gross negligence.

3 Tips for Preventing Hot Car Deaths

Forgetting your child in the car may seem unfathomable, but it’s easier to do than most parents would like to admit.

Follow these three tips for preventing a hot car death on your watch:

  1. Place an item you’ll need to retrieve before moving on with your day in the back seat. Whether it’s your cell phone or your shoe, you will be forced to check for your child before exiting the vehicle.
  2. Request your child’s school or childcare provider contact you as soon as possible if your child is absent without notice.
  3. Keep an old stuffed animal in the car seat, and move it to the passenger seat each time you buckle your child in to serve as a visual reminder.

How to Break into a Vehicle to Rescue a Child or Pet

Disclaimer: The following instructions are only to be used in emergency situations where the life of a child or pet is in immediate danger.

  1. Quickly check for unlocked doors. If you’re unable to gain access to the vehicle, call 911 or recruit a bystander to do so. Under Ohio’s new law, you must take these steps to receive immunity.
  2. Locate a tool you can use to break the car window, such as a tire iron, hammer or screwdriver.
    prevent hot car deaths
    resqme® Quick Car Escape Tool

    Want to be prepared to take action? Invest in a resqme® Quick Car Escape Tool. The keychain’s powerful steel spike quickly and efficiently cracks a vehicle’s side window. Purchase one online for just $12.95, and $4 from the purchase of certain models is donated to KidsAndCars.

  3. Select the side window furthest from the child to reduce the risk of injuries resulting from shattered glass.
  4. Drive the tool into one of the window’s lower corners until the glass breaks. Do not focus your efforts on the center of the window, as this is the strongest section.
  5. Use the tool to carefully clear any remaining glass shards from the edges of the window, and remove the child from the vehicle.

We hope you will never be in a situation where it is necessary to use this information, but you never know when you may be forced to take action to save a life.

Ohio Deer Season: Gun Safety

By William J. Price

Deer hunting has always been about tradition. As a kid, I tagged along to learn the nuances of what to do and what not to do when killing an animal. As an adult, I imparted the family wisdom to my kin and relished the time alone with my children who enjoyed one of my few hobbies. As gun season is now upon us, the one practice I still continue to review each time we set foot on our property is gun safety. This tradition will never die.

When deer hunting, always determine your target and know where your shot will stop.
Photo by jaymantri.com, licensed under CC BY 1.0

 

Aside from the typical safety routines I review each time a gun is in their hands, I chose this year to focus in on the following rule: “Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.” [1]  Whether you are in the blind, in a tree stand or simply walking through the woods, knowing what is potentially beyond the target is the hardest part of hunting. To stress the importance of this simple rule, I took the kids on an excursion days before the season opened.

From the tree stand, we mapped out the woods and all of the hazards. We measured off the feed piles, areas of thick brush and tree cover and the open fields, which fed directly into the woods. I stressed these were the areas where other hunters may exist. We identified the dangers, such as protruding rocks and large tree trunks, where ricochets may occur, ravines containing blind spots and lastly looked for other tree stands or areas where hunters may “accidentally” trespass on our land. The whole purpose of this very simple exercise was to identify those hazards which may suddenly appear after a shot is taken.

While I may be disappointed when my son or daughter misses a shot, I do not want to regret the shot was due to a lack of preparation on my part.

Ohio Deer Hunting Season

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has announced Ohio’s 2015 deer-gun season will continue Dec. 28-29.

During the Dec. 28-29 firearm season, all hunters except waterfowl hunters must wear a vest, coat, jacket or coveralls that are either solid hunter orange or camouflage hunter orange. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons.

Shotguns and straight-walled cartridge rifles in approved calibers cannot have more than three shells.

For more information on deer hunting rules, including approved guns, visit wildohio.gov. Download a copy of the 2015-2016 Ohio Hunting Regulations or pick up a copy where licenses are sold.

 

Bill Price is a seasoned trial attorney who focuses his practice on personal injury litigation for people who have been seriously injured or killed. He has the distinction of being named to the 2016 Top 100 Ohio and Top 50 Cleveland Super Lawyers lists.


 

Sources:

[1] National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Firearms Safety | 10 Rules of Safe Gun Handling.” NSSF, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2015. http://www.nssf.org/safety/basics/

Ohio School Bus Safety

Being stuck behind a school bus while rushing to work can be frustrating, but school bus safety is more important than shaving a few minutes off your commute time.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 1,344 people killed in school-transportation-related crashes—an average of 134 fatalities per year. Bus drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers on the road, all must obey bus safety rules. In Ohio, drivers must stop at least 10 feet away from a stopped school bus to allow passengers to safely enter or exit the bus.

Flashing yellow lights mean a school bus is going to stop.Watch the lights

Amber lights

Amber (yellow) flashing lights at the top of the bus indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Although you are not required to stop when the amber lights are flashing, you should be prepared to stop as soon as the bus comes to a full stop.

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing.Red lights/Stop Arm

When the bus stops, red lights on the top of the bus will begin flashing, signaling drivers that children are entering or exiting the bus and may be crossing the street. In addition, a stop arm with flashing red lights extends out on the left side of the bus. Stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before starting to drive again. 

When to stop for a school bus in Ohio

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals motorists to proceed.

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus.

If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bust must stop.

If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bust must stop.

School Bus Safety Tips

  • Never pass a school bus on the right
  • All school buses must stop before crossing railroad tracks
  • Never pass a bus at a railroad crossing
  • Be aware of school zone signals and always obey the posted speed limits
  • Leave a little early so you are not rushed as you travel

Failure to stop for a school bus adds 2 points to your license in Ohio and is punishable by fines up to $500. You must appear in court and the judge has the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for up to one year. A driver who injures a pedestrian while failing to comply with school bus safety laws can face both criminal charges and civil liability. Those liabilities can include the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

 

Sources:

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2015, June). School transportation-related crashes: 2004–2013 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 170). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ohio Department of Public Safety. Bureau of Motor Vehicles. (2015, June). Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.75 – Stopping for stopped school bus