Carpooling Moms Worry About Safety
Moms who rely on carpools to get their children to school or to after-school activities are “extremely concerned” about the safety of their kids, a new national survey reveals.

The survey, conducted in mid-August by the public opinion research company StrategyOne, found that moms are especially worried about their children’s safety in other parents’ vehicles. Of the 278 mothers surveyed, all of whom had children ages 10 and under, 69 percent reported that they are “very or extremely concerned” about their children’s safety when the kids carpool with other parents. Among their top worries:

• 84 percent worry that their kids will not be properly restrained (in seat belts) in other parents’ vehicles.

• 81 percent worry that drivers who are in a hurry to get to school in the morning or to an activity in the afternoon could jeopardize their children’s safety.

• 79 percent find children’s behavior to be the biggest distraction while driving a carpool.

• 75 percent cite cell phones as the second biggest distraction for drivers.

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“Mothers are worried about their children when they’re on the road with others, and they are right to be concerned – 2,570 children under the age of 15 were killed last year in automobile accidents,” says Bob Yakushi, director of product safety and a certified child passenger safety technician for the car manufacturer Nissan North America Inc., which sponsored the survey. Yakushi acknowledges that it can be difficult driving with children in the car, but he says moms can maximize the safety of everyone in the vehicle by following a few simple tips.

Make Your Carpool Safe

• Make sure all passengers’ seat belts are fastened (driver’s too!) before starting your car. Check child safety seats or booster seats and seat belts to ensure kids are all properly restrained.

• Keep soft toys, games and favorite children’s music recordings in your car to entertain kids and to allow you to focus on driving.

• Don’t try to solve behavior problems while driving. Pull the vehicle over at a safe place to deal with troublesome situations.

• Do not use the cell phone when driving. If it is necessary, use a hands-free headset.

Yakushi encourages moms to share these tips with other parents whom their children ride with to increase their safety awareness. 

Proper Restraint

Follow these guidelines for proper safety restraints from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration when transporting children under 12 years of age:

  Children in infancy through age 1 should be in an infant-only, rear-facing convertible car safety seat, and they should not be placed in the front seat. Harness straps need to be at or below shoulder level.

Toddlers over age 1 and weighing between 20 and 40 pounds should be in a convertible, forward-facing car safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle. Harness straps should be at or above the shoulders.

Young children weighing more than 40 pounds (ages 4 to 8, unless 4 feet 9 inches tall) should be in a belt-positioning, forward-facing car booster seat. The seat must be used with both lap and shoulder belts. The lap belt should fit low and tight across the lap and upper-thigh area, while the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the chest and shoulder.

All children ages 12 and under should ride in the back seat of a vehicle.

– Deirdre Wilson