Safety Tips For Driving With ‘Tweens’

Driving with your kids in the car can sometimes be a trying experience, and not just when it comes to choosing a radio station. Just because your children are too old for car booster seats, doesn’t mean they should be seated like adults.

Large numbers of 8 to 12 year olds – dubbed “tweens” by marketers – are needlessly at risk when riding in motor vehicles according to a research report recently released by the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS).

The report found that half of tweens surveyed do not always wear seat belts and many sit in front seats.

“Tweens are at an important age, a time when they are developing habits they will carry into their teen and adult years,” said Christene Jennings, ACTS director of programs. “We’re finding belt use and seating position for tweens are significantly influenced by their parents. And we’re learning how parents can be more effective at getting tweens properly restrained in a back seat.”

The safest place for children 12 and under is properly restrained in a back seat, in an age- and size- appropriate restraint, booster seat or a properly fitting seat belt.

Unfortunately, as children age, restraint use declines and their desire to sit in the front seat grows. Overall about a third of tweens surveyed reported sitting in the front seat. And research shows children are 40% more likely to be injured in the front seat than the back.

Most tweens already are aware of the benefits of buckling up. However, safety alone has limited influence because other factors may be more important to them.

Even though tweens are becoming more independent, they still need parental guidance to ensure their safety in cars.

Surveys showed when parents take control, tweens tend to sit in the back. Two thirds sit in a back seat when parents make the decision, compared to only half of tweens who independently decide where to sit.

The ACTS is providing some tips on persuading tweens to buckle up in a back seat:

* Buckle up yourself! Tweens still think of their parents as role models. Research shows when parents are restrained, their children are more likely to be as well.

* Tell them it’s the law. Seat belts are mandatory by law. Let tweens know belt use isn’t an option; it’s the law.

* Let your tween pick the radio station. Tweens said being in control of the radio is a major benefit of the front seat. Make a deal with your tween: If he sits buckled in back, he can choose.

* Give your tween something to do in a back seat. Electronic games can be stored in a back seat and make games in the front seat off limits.

* Let tweens “own” their space in a back seat. Tweens are eager to claim their own space. Let them set up places to keep things in a back seat so that’s the first place they want to go.

More information on tween car safety in available on a new Web site from the ACTS, available atwww.tweensafety.org

(SPM Wire)

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