A drivers guide for when they havepassengers in child seats

| In Articles - Driving | 12th December 2020

If you are a parent and you drive, or you simply have to take children in your car, you must follow a few safety steps before and after you put any children into a child seat.

child seat positioning in a car

For a child, no matter of age is best to seat in one of the back seats.

If you only have one child, positioning the child seat on a diagonal on the back seats will give you as a driver (if you are the only adult from the car) more ability to see and give little things to the child.
Even if you drive alone with the child and you need to reach him/her for different reasons, in case of an accident, the child will have more protection in the back row.

Reasons to avoid putting a child seat on the front passenger seat

  • To install a newborn rear-facing child seat in the front passenger seat of a car, you must deactivate the passenger airbag (it's the law). The reason is that in case of a crash, the airbag will push the baby car seat so fast and with so much power that can kill the child;
  • If the child is between 3 to 7 years old, its positioning into the front passenger seat can cause a lot of problems for the driver. If you think that having your child next to you will allow you to give water or more attention to the child, think twice! While driving you should not be distracted by other activities. And at this age, they will kick a lot with their feet into the dashboard and even into the gear shifter which can destroy the car;
  • If the child is above 7 years old, is not really a problem to seat into the first seat if the law in your country allows that, but is still a lot safer to seat in the back. They might want to watch cartoons on a screen or read from a magazine and these activities can distract the driver.
  • For any children, no matter of age, a frontal airbag can cause a lot of damage to the body

General advice

It is advised not to give food to a child while driving because in case of a choking hazard you will not be able to give help. By the time you will find a place to stop safely, it can be too late.

If the child can drink water by itself, position a little bottle with water next to it to be able to take it itself.

Give some occupation to the child to keep it calm while in the car, like a magazine to watch, a tablet, positioned at the eye level, to watch something interesting, and if is an adult accompanying you, let that person seat in the back next to the child, to distract the child from time to time and give him/her more attention.

Avoid at all costs to use the phone while driving, especially to put cartoons to a child or other activities as described in this article. You will put in danger not only your life but also the life of any other passenger, including children who are a lot less resistant to the shock of an impact.

If the child falls asleep while in the car, is a good thing most of the time, but sometimes you might want to keep the child awake if you are returning home close to the sleeping time. In this case, a nap in the car will make a child sleep very late over the night and it can create big problems for the child and the parents if in the next morning the child has to go to nursery or school.

Is it advised to add a car seat protector on the main seat of the car under the child seat. The car seat can deteriorate in time because of the pressure it gets from the child seat. Also, a protective cover on the back of the front seat will also help. A child will kick the front seat many times with his shoes (which can have mud or little rocks on them) and this seat can deteriorate in time.

The child seat and seatbelt

Always check the child seat installation before you put the child into it.
Check it to be properly installed and have no movements.
After you position the child into it check the child's seat belt (the one that is coming installed into the child seat and which is usually a 5 points seatbelt) to do not be very tight but also not very loose. You must be able to insert a few fingers between the seatbelt and the child's chest or shoulders.
If you carry other adults into the back seats, always ensure the child seat stays properly installed after the other passengers remove their seatbelts. By mistake, an adult can remove the main car seatbelt that is holding the child seat, and it can be very dangerous in case of an accident.

Remove the child jacket. You have multiple reasons to do that. First reason is that the inside of the car will get warm in just a few minutes, and second, because some jackets are slippery and unsafe in case of an accident, making the seatbelt (the verticals one that goes over each shoulder) to slide along the shoulders and let the child upper body to move in front of the seatbelt.

Other car preparations that came with a child seat

Make sure you lock the rear doors with the child locking system (usually is a system placed on the door frame and it can be accessed with the car key when the door is large opened).
A child will always be tempted to unlock the door from the inside handle. Even if you have a modern car that locks all the doors after it starts moving, the door will only be locked to do not be opened from outside. The inside passengers will still be able to unlock them.

Use a window curtain on the child's door (you have to install it before starting to drive after checking the weather). A powerful sun can torture a child, getting into the child's eyes, and burning the skin.
Add protection on the car door edges for when your child will open the doors in a car park, to protect other cars from being hit.

It is advised to have a child mirror installed that will allow you as a driver to see the child into the back seat. A child is many times tempted to remove the seatbelt from the child seat and this has to be seen straight away by the driver.
Over the night this mirror can be accompanied by a ceiling light turned on.
A child can sometimes get scared when inside the car is very dark and a little ambient light will help with that but will also help the driver to see the child.