We know you make every effort to keep your kids safe. However, parenting can be a hectic job. The daily routine of getting your kids to and from school and other activities can be hurried and chaotic, creating an environment where insisting on wearing a seat belt is not top of mind.
See if you face some of these challenges to enforcing seat belt use in your daily routine.
Five Challenges to Getting Tweens to
Wear—and Stay in—Their Seat Belts
- Non-Compliant Drivers
When parents and caregivers fail to buckle up, children are far less likely to wear their seat belts.
Kids who are focused on electronic devices, eating, reading or doing other things after getting into a car are preoccupied with something other than seat belt safety. Habits can easily be forgotten or neglected when kids are focused on something else.
Sometimes kids will put their seat belts behind their backs or under their arms, complaining that the seat belt is uncomfortable. This could be because they've been prematurely moved from a booster to a seat belt and the belt doesn't fit properly. Make sure your child is correctly fitted in his/her seat belt and consider the possibility that your child may still need to use a booster. Find out when your child is ready for a seat belt.
- Short Trips and Slower Speeds
Kids will sometimes refuse to wear seat belts when they associate short trips or slower speeds with a reduced risk to their safety—a common misconception. Routine trips can be deceptively dangerous. In fact, most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles of home and at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour.
Nighttime gives children a sense of anonymity in the back seat; after all, it's harder for drivers to see whether their children are buckled up. On long trips, especially, kids may unbuckle their seat belts or put them behind their backs if they want to sleep.
No Matter How Hurried or Chaotic, Don't Negotiate!
As a parent, sometimes you let your kids have their way. But their safety should never be up for negotiation, no matter how much they push back on the seat belts being uncomfortable or unnecessary for just a “short drive”. Here are some tips to help you win the seat belt battle:
- Consistently Model Seat Belt Safety
Teaching your children to consistently wear seat belts can take a great deal of resolve. Your first line of defense, as your children's number one influence, is to wear your seat belt and insist that all family members do the same.
- Never Give Up Until They Buckle Up
Make sure your kids are buckled up with their lap and shoulder belt—no shoulder belts behind their backs or under their arms, or seat belts so loose that they can wrestle in the back seat. Learn how to motivate your kids to buckle up properly and consistently using age-appropriate messages and rewards to reinforce the importance of seat belt safety.
- Never Assume Your Kids Are Buckled Up
One conversation is not enough: Remind your children to wear their seat belts every time they get into a car—no matter whose car it is—and stay buckled up, including at night and on longer rides.
One tween passenger is injured every 8 minutes in a car crash.
(*Based on 2013 NHTSA data).