Driving Safety Tips

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Two out of three children learn about driving safety from their parents. But only half of parents always wear their seat belts when driving.
  • Buckle up every time you're in the car, even on short trips: 75% of accidents occur within 25 miles of your home.
  • While frontal air bags are effective in frontal collisions, they offer little or no protection in side impact collisions.
  • Do not tailgate. Driving too close to the car in front of you is the leading cause of accidents.
  • Avoid using your cell phone while driving, especially while there are children aboard.

Car Safety Seats

The numbers speak for themselves. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of accidental death for children age four through 15. Every year, about 2,000 children under the age of 15 die and nearly 300,000 are injured in passenger vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than half of these children were not properly restrained.

Research shows the proper use of restraints saves lives. A 2006 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates increased use of child safety seats for infants and young children and seatbelts for older children likely helped reduce the annual rate of child fatalities in motor vehicle crashes from 1978-2004.

We hope that this seat safety information will help keep your family safe when you're on the road. It's just one more way Farmers is working harder than ever to get you back where you belong.

Choosing the right safety seat for your child

No one seat is the "best" or "safest". The best seat is the one that fits your child's size, is correctly installed, and is used properly every time you drive. When shopping for a car safety seat, keep the following in mind:
  • Don't decide by price alone. A higher price does not mean the seat is safer or easier to use. All car safety seats available for sale in the united States must meet government safety standards.
  • When you find a seat you like, try it out in your car, as some seats may not fit properly in rear seats that have deep contours, humps, or certain types of safety belts. Put your child in it and adjust the harnesses and buckles. Make sure it fits properly and securely in your car.
  • Keep in mind that pictures or displays of car safety seats may not depict them being used correctly.

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The golden rules of car seat safety

  • Always use a car safety seat, starting with your baby's first ride home from the hospital.
  • Never place a child in a rear-facing care safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag.
  • All children younger than 13 years old are safest in the back seat.
  • Be a good role model - always wear your seat belt. This will help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
  • Remember that each car safety seat is different. Read and keep the instructions that came with your seat, and follow them at all times.
  • Take your kids and their car seats with you to the dealership when you're auditioning new family cars. Is there enough clearance for rear-facing seats in the backseat? Is there enough legroom for older kids in front-facing seats? Does each safety seat fit securely on the seat bottom cushion or is it likely to wiggle around?
  • Read your car owner's manual for information about installing your car safety seat.

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Infant Car Seat

Remember: rear-facing infant seats reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71%.
  • An infant car seat must be used in a rear-facing position until the child is at least 12 months old and weighs at least 20 pounds. Thereafter, the baby should ride in a front-facing safety seat placed in the back seat of the car.
  • Never place a safety seat in front of an airbag; the preferred location is the middle seat in the rear.
  • Never hold your baby in your lap while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Your child's head should be at least 1" below the top of the child seat.

Statistics and information provided by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Farmers Insurance Group

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Toddler Car Seat

  • Toddler Car Safety seats should be used for children between 20 and 40 pounds, and over 12 months old.
  • Car seat harness straps should be snug and the harness clip fastened at the armpit level.
  • Route harness straps through the upper slots or below the shoulder.
  • If using a convertible car seat, adjust the car seat in the upright position.
  • The car seat must be tightly secured to the seatbelt in the vehicle.
  • Some forward-facing seats can be used with harness straps until the child reaches 40 lbs. and used without harness straps as a booster seat.

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Booster Car Seat

Your child should stay in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible before switching to a booster seat. Booster seats, designed for children more than 40 pounds, raise your child so that the lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly. This means the lap belt lies low across your child's upper thighs and the shoulder belt crosses the middle of your child's chest and shoulder. Correct belt fit helps protect the stomach, spine, and head from injury in a crash.

Both high-back and backless booster seats are available. They do not come with harness straps but are used with the lap and shoulder seat belts in your vehicle. Booster seats should be used until your child can correctly fit in lap and shoulder seat belts. You can tell when your child is ready for a booster seat when one of the following is true:

  • Your child reaches the highest weight or height allowed for her seat using a harness. (These limits are listed on the seat and are also included in the instruction booklet.)
  • Your child's shoulders are above the harness slots.
  • Your child's ears have reached the top of the seat.
If your child isn't using a booster and is younger than 8 years old, odds are they would be safer in a booster. Try the simple test below the next time you ride together in the car.

Five-step Booster Test

  1. Does your child sit all the way back against the car seat?
  2. Do your 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 your child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection.

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Seat Belts

Keep in mind that seat belts are made for adults. If the seat belt does not fit your child correctly, he should stay in a booster seat until the adult seat belts fits him correctly. This is usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age. This means:
  • The shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat.
  • The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
  • He is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with his legs bent without slouching and can stay in this position comfortably throughout the trip.
Other points to keep in mind when using seat belts:
  • Make sure your child does not tuck the shoulder belt under her arm or behind her back.
  • If there's only a lap belt, make sure it's snug and low on her thighs, not across the stomach. Try to get a lap and shoulder belt installed in your car by a dealer.
  • Never allow anyone to "share" seat belts. All passengers must have their own car safety seats or seat belts.
  • The safest place for all children younger than 13 years of age is the back seat.

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LATCH Systems

An NHTSA study found that many parents were unaware of the existence or importance of a built-in system of anchors in newer vehicles specifically designed to hold and anchor child safety seats. The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) systems became standard in many vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2002.

The LATCH system is designed to fit together like a key in a lock. It eliminates the need to use a seat belt to secure a safety seat, prevents a loose fit around the child seated in a child safety seat, and allows the upper tethers to reduce the tilting or rotation of the seat during a head-on collision.

Check your Vehicle Owner's Manual to see if it is LATCH-equipped.

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Cell Phone Safety

Concern about cell phone safety is on the rise, due in part to the increased use of cell phones while driving. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time in our cars. Not surprisingly, we attempt to optimize the time we spend driving by doing other things, including using our cell phones.

However, cell phones can pose a serious health risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that driver inattention is a primary or contributing factor in as many as 50 percent of all traffic accidents. While cell phones have many benefits, it is very important to remember road safety always comes first.

Obviously, there are some benefits to having a cell phone handy while driving:

  • Makes it easier to call for help in an emergency.
  • Roadside assistance is just a phone call away.

However, these benefits may be outweighed by the potential danger of driver inattention. Responsible use of cell phones can limit accidents and protect your safety.

  • When available, use a hands-free device, or purchase an earpiece attachment so that you can keep both hands on the steering wheel.
  • Do not use hand-held cell phones while driving. If you must use a hand-held phone, pull over and park before using it.
  • Get to know your phone and its features.
  • Position your phone within easy reach.
  • Secure your phone in its holder. Do not place the phone on the passenger seat or where it can break loose in a sudden stop.
  • Don't use your cell phone in heavy traffic or hazardous weather conditions.
  • Don't take notes or look up phone numbers while driving.
  • If possible, place calls when you are not moving or merging.
  • Don't engage in stressful or emotional conversations that may divert your attention from the road.

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Download our Driving Safety or Child Safety Seat Brochures. Or contact your local Farmers agent to order enough for your club, church or civic group.

Playing it safe on the road also includes reviewing your Auto insurance coverage annually with your local Farmer's agent. Call today for a no-obligation homeowners and auto insurance quote.

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