Child Safety

Overview

You’ve researched safe cars, read up on car seats, and selected the right ones for your family. You've even had your car seat inspected at a seat-checking station to make sure you installed it correctly. But did you know there are dangers in and around your vehicle that could seriously harm or even kill your child?

Press Release

NHTSA helps raise awareness of child heatstroke in cars

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Press Release

Back to School Safety Advisory: NHTSA Encourages Everyone to Be Responsible for Getting Children To and From School Safely

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The Topic

Keeping Kids Safe

Related Topic

Find out how to keep your child safe in and around your vehicle. We offer prevention tips and information about vehicle features to avoid rollaway, backover, heatstroke and other dangers to children.

The Topic

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children. Unfortunately, even great parents can forget a child in the back seat. Other risk factors include caregivers who aren’t used to driving kids or whose routine suddenly changes.

Whether you’re a parent, caregiver or bystander of a child left in a car, it’s vitally important to understand children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. Follow these important rules and tips to protect children from heatstroke:

The Topic

Backover

Many children are killed or seriously injured in backover incidents. A backover incident typically occurs when a vehicle coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over an unattended child because the driver did not see him or her.

Prevention Tips

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.
  • Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.
  • Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.
  • Be aware of small children-the smaller a child, the more likely it is you will not see them.
  • Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started.
  • Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.
  • Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.
  • Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you'll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.
  • Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway.
  • Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.
  • Many cars are equipped with detection devices that provide rearview video or warning sounds, but they cannot completely take the place of actively walking around your car to make sure children are safely out of the way. Do not rely solely on these devices to detect what is behind your vehicle.
The Topic

Power Windows

Children can hurt themselves with power windows. Many kids are injured when a window closes on their finger, wrist, or hand. Some kids have been strangled by power windows.

Prevention Tips

  • Never leave your children alone in a vehicle for any reason.
  • Teach your children not to play with window switches.
  • Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests.
  • Properly restrain your children in car seats or seat belts to prevent them from accidentally activating power windows and sunroofs.
  • Look and make sure your kids' hands, feet, and head, are clear of windows before raising the windows.
  • Never leave the key in the ignition or in the "on" or "accessory" position when you walk away from your car.
  • If available, activate the power window lock switch so that your children cannot play with the windows.

What You Need To Know, Now.

  • All new vehicles will have "pull to close" switches, which require you to pull up on them to close the window. Older vehicles may have window switches that a child can accidentally step or put weight on, easily causing a window to close.
  • Some vehicles have power windows that automatically reverse when an object (such as your child's arm or neck) is in the path of a closing window. Check both the individual vehicle rating pages on nhtsa.gov and your owner's manual to see if a vehicle is equipped with this safety technology.
The Topic

Seat Belt Entanglement

Related Topic

A child within reach of a seat belt may become entangled if he or she pulls the seat belt all the way out and wraps the belt around his or her head, neck, or waist.

The majority of seat belts have a locking mechanism that is activated when the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor. This feature is designed for child seat installation. In instances when the locking feature activates, the child may not be able to free him or herself.

This can happen if you do not properly restrain your child, for example, if you let the child lie down or sleep on the vehicle seat instead of being properly restrained. Older children who are no longer in a child restraint system can become entangled by pulling a seat belt all the way out of the retractor or by playing with an unused seat belt.

Prevention Tips

  • Do not let children play in or around cars.
  • Never leave a child unattended in or around a vehicle.
  • Always ensure children are properly restrained.
  • Teach children that seat belts are not toys.
  • Be aware that some seat belts have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out.
  • If a child has an unused seat belt within reach, buckle unused seat belts. Pull the seat belt out all the way to the end without yanking. Then, feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.
The Topic

Trunk Entrapment

Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. So, if you leave your kids unattended, in or near a vehicle, it won't be long before they are playing in it. Hide and seek can turn deadly if they get trapped in the trunk, where temperatures can rise very quickly – resulting in heatstroke or asphyxiation.

Prevention Tips

  • Teach children that vehicle trunks are for cargo, not for playing.
  • Always supervise your children carefully when in and around vehicles.
  • Check the trunk right away if your child is missing.
  • Lock your car doors and trunk and be sure keys and remote entry devices are out of sight and reach of your kids.
  • Keep the rear fold-down seats closed/locked to keep your children from climbing into the trunk from inside your car.

Retrofit Your Car

As of September 1, 2001, automobile manufacturers were required to equip all new vehicle trunks with a 'glow in the dark' trunk release inside the trunk compartment. Show your kids how to use the release in case of an emergency. If your car is older and does not have the 'glow in the dark' trunk release, ask your automobile dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism.

What You Need To Know, Now.

  • Younger children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults, and are at greater risk for heatstroke.
  • High temperature, humidity and poor ventilation create an extremely dangerous environment in a vehicle trunk.
  • Check the trunk right away if your child is missing.
  • Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid 60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.
The Topic

Vehicle Rollaway

Related Topic

Before the introduction of Brake Transmission Safety Interlocks (BTSI), it was possible to shift vehicles with automatic transmissions "out of park"— even if the vehicle's engine was off or in accessory mode, the driver's foot was not on the brake, and the key was in the ignition, which often led to vehicle rollaway, particularly with unsupervised children playing in vehicles.

BTSI was gradually added to new cars until it was finally required in all vehicles by Model Year 2010. As a result, this type of vehicle rollaway, while possible, is very uncommon. However, vehicle rollaway can still be a problem in vehicles equipped with a keyless ignition or push-button start feature when the vehicle has been turned off and not shifted into park.

Prevention Tips

  • Always ensure the vehicle is securely in the Park position before shutting the vehicle off and exiting.
  • Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.
  • Keep vehicle locked when unattended.
  • Never leave keys in the car.
  • Engage your emergency brake every time you park.
  • Verify whether or not your vehicle has BTSI by reading the owner's manual.

What You Need To Know, Now.

  • When the vehicle is set in motion, a driver may try to jump into the rolling vehicle in an attempt to stop it, only to be injured or run over. Children can also be hurt inside the vehicle, especially if they are unbelted and the vehicle is in motion. Sometimes, the vehicle may end up running over someone else or into other vehicles. Safety equipment such as air bags are not operational when the vehicle is in the Off position.
  • All vehicles with automatic transmission and a Park position, manufactured for sale after September 1, 2010, must have BTSI.
  • A small but growing number of new vehicles have an automatic Shift-to-Park function which is a safety feature intended to prevent vehicles from accidentally being turned off without Park being engaged. Should the vehicle be turned off before being placed into Park, the vehicle will automatically shift the transmission to the Park position.
NHTSA in Action

NHTSA is dedicated to promoting safe behaviors on our Nation's roads

Keeping children safe extends beyond car seats. By providing educational information to parents and caregivers, and through our heatstroke prevention campaign Look Before You Lock!, NHTSA works to prevent the injury and death of children in and around vehicles.

Resources

More Information

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3yo208_08 - unbelted child; Kneeling on seat, facing forward PDF, 164.62 KB
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3yo208_09 - unbelted child; Kneeling on seat, facing rearward PDF, 109.17 KB
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3yo208_10 unbelted child; Lying on seat PDF, 122.69 KB
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3yo208_11 - unbelted child; Lying on seat PDF, 85.74 KB
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Related resources for this topic

View Heatstroke Campaign

Check for Baby

In 2017, there were 39 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles, a 63-percent increase from 2015.

  • NEVER leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
  • Make it a habit to look in the backseat EVERY time you exit the car.
  • ALWAYS lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

#checkforbaby