September Parenting Tip of the Month
Car Passenger Safety

Families use their vehicles every day to transport children to and from child care, school, family events and activities. Our daily commutes are routine and uneventful majority of the time; however, we never know when we will be involved in a car accident. Car accidents are a leading cause of death for children ages 1-13. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, “when installed and used correctly, child safety seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent among infants, 5 percent among toddlers, and 45 percent among children ages 4-8.”
Knowing the best child safety seat to use for your child and how to install it is the best way to protect your child if you should be in an accident. The following website has helpful videos that show how to install various car seats for different ages of children,   You can also contact a car seat technician or take your vehicle to a free car seat check station for assistance. To locate one in your area, visit

It is common for toddlers or preschoolers to not want to be buckled in. Here are some tips to help resolve the conflict: 
  • Stay Calm. This is the most important. Take a few deep breaths when you start to feel tense. 
  • State First/Then. This is a great technique to maintain expectations and consistency. Tell your child, “First let’s get you buckled in, and then you can have your book.” Other items to offer are snacks, toys or a favorite song to listen to. 
  • Have car only items. These are specific items that are used when riding in the car. The items may be books, toys, stuffed animals or stickers. Remember to rotate them often.
  • Buckle up a buddy. If your child has a favorite doll or stuffed toy, buckle up the buddy or have your child buckle up their buddy. 
  • Offer Choices. Look for opportunities to offer choices, such as, “Do you want to climb in the car seat by yourself, or do you want me to help you?”
  • Develop a special ritual. Give your child a high-five, kiss, fist-bump or tickle after he or she is buckled in. This is a great way to connect with your child while acknowledging their positive behavior. 
  • Wait it out. If your child is having a tantrum, it may be best to wait 5-8 minutes until he or she begins to calm down. During this time, do not engage them. When they are calmer, clearly and calmly state the expectation and try again. 

Child Passenger Safety Week is observed the week of Sept. 23-29, 2018, to remind us of the importance of buckling up our children in order to minimize serious injury or death from car crashes. In Kansas, the Child Passenger Safety Act requires every driver who transports a child under the age of 14 to provide protection by:
  • Using an appropriate child safety seat for children under 4.
  • Using an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat for children under 8, unless the child weighs more than 80 pounds or is more than 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • Using a safety belt if under the age of 14 and no longer in a booster seat.

Additionally, occupants ages 14-18 can be cited and fined $60 for not properly using a seat belt in any seating position in the car, and front seat occupants over 18 can be fined $30.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol:
  • Children under 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. 
  • Children ages 1-3 should remain in a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the top height or weight limit recommendations by the car seat’s manufacturer.
  • Children ages 4-7 are required to ride in a booster seat.
  • Children ages 8-13 must be protected by a seat belt and ride in the back seat.
  • Teenagers ages 14-18 must be protected by a seat belt.

To see the full requirements from the Kansas Highway Patrol, click

Happy and safe travels!

Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office website,
What to Expect website, “Handling a Stubborn Toddler”
1100 SW Wanamaker Rd., Ste. 201
Topeka, Kansas 66604