Kids and cars: Safety reminders for grandmothers and others

child sleeping in car

I left for the desert to care for my grandsons just one day after returning home from the Lifesavers Conference, the forum where I learned the sobering stats on auto safety I shared last week.

Because of the timing, those scary stats and many more have been at the forefront of my mind since reporting for duty as sole caretaker of Bubby and Mac for the week. So when I leave the house with the kids in the car, I'm uber conscientious about ensuring they're correctly buckled into their seats. As I drive around with the most precious of cargo in the back seat, I pay extra close attention to other vehicles headed my way.

boy in bicycle helmetPlus, when walking to the park — Bubby riding his bike slightly ahead of me as I push the stroller with Mac inside — Bubby always wears his helmet and walks, not rides, his bike when crossing the street (with Gramma!). On such walks, I regularly and sternly warn Bubby to always listen and watch for vehicles that may be getting ready to back out of driveways he's approaching, which is immensely important, considering that every week in the U.S., according to, at least 50 children are backed over in driveways and parking lots.

As a long-distance grandma, I don't often have to think about such things in relation to my grandsons, so attending the Lifesavers Conference just before visiting them served as an important refresher course for me. I was thankful for the reminders — and the new concerns, too, regardless of how scary.

I thought you, the grandmothers and others who care for kids, might appreciate them, as well. Below are what I consider some of the best safety tips related to younger kids and cars that I gleaned from the organizations at Lifesavers 2013 — tips I'd either forgotten or hadn't considered before. (Tons more safety info can be found on the individual websites mentioned.)

From Buckle Up for Life

From SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.

The five-step test for determining if a child no longer needs a booster seat (though, you should always adhere to state laws regarding booster seats, regardless of this test):

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?


  • Teach children that even parked vehicles might move. Let them know that even though they can see the vehicle, the driver might not see them.
  • Get in the habit of always walking all the way around your vehicle prior to moving it, to ensure no kids are nearby.
  • Teach children to never play in, around or behind any vehicle.
  • Trim the landscaping around your driveway to ensure you can see children.
  • Set the emergency brake every time you park.
  • Store keys out of children's reach.
  • Lock the power windows so children cannot get caught in them. Power windows can strangle a child or cut off a finger.
  • To be sure your child is never forgotten in your vehicle, put your cell phone, handbag or briefcase on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Text 'kidsandcars' to 46986 for the latest safety info.

What about older kids? Those with teens in the family will find a wealth of information — for teens, parents (and grandparents) and educators — on the Toyota Teen Driver website [editor's note: site no longer online].

Disclosure: Though I attended the Lifesavers Conference courtesy of Toyota, I was not obligated to write this post nor did I receive compensation for it.

Today's question:

When did you last drive with a child in your vehicle?