September 23rd – 28th 2019 is Passenger Safety Week.
As CASA volunteers, we often transport our CASA kids to help them with visits, appointments, and to spend a fun day with them. Thus, it is crucial that we train all our staff and volunteers the importance of passenger safety and how to install car seats. In this blog post I will discuss some ways to become more vigilant about safely driving with a child in your car.
The first step to being aware of passenger safety (and your own safety) is knowing what causes distracted driving. The three main types of distracted driving are visual, manual and cognitive.
Visual: Keep your eyes on the road, do not read messages your phone.
Manual: Make all adjustments before driving, do not eat or hold your phone while driving.
Cognitive: Stay focused on the road, keep your emotions in check – negative or positive emotions can cause a big distraction while driving.
The consequences for distracted driving commonly are drifting into other lanes, running stop signs/red lights, getting into an accident, and more. But there are some ways to handle distracted driving once you are aware it is happening. If it is a visual or manual distraction, pull over and fix the distraction before returning to the road (ex: make a phone call or silence the phone, adjust your seat, etc.) If it is a cognitive distraction, you can pull over, take a deep breath, and turn on calming music.
Wisconsin driving laws to keep in mind:
You must move over or slow down when there is anyone pulled over or working on the side of the road.
Use of a handheld communication device when driving through a work zone is illegal
Texting and driving is illegal
Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers
Lastly, when driving with a passenger under the age of 12 years old, you must keep in mind the driving laws and car seat rules based on their age, weight and/or height. The types of car seats and age/weight restrictions for each are listed below.
Infant Carrier: For babies from birth up to 20lbs. and under age 1. They are rear-facing to protect the head, neck and spine the best, and reclined to keep the head back so baby can breathe.
Rear Facing Car Seat: The preference is to keep a child rear facing until they reach the maximum height and weight allowances for their car seat, usually until the age of 2. State law is the child must stay rear facing until 1 years old and at least 20lbs.
Front Facing Car Seat: Children MUST stay in a forward facing car seat until 40lbs and at least 4 years old.
Booster Seat: Kids under 8 years old must be seated in federally approved safety seats or boosters until they reach over 80 lbs. OR taller than 4ft 9in.
It is important to remember all child car seat restraints are different, please follow the instructions on the car seat and do not add any additional padding to ensure protection of the child. Then, in Wisconsin, a child can sit in the front seat of your car once the reach the age of 12.
For more information on passenger and child safety while driving in Wisconsin, please visit the sources below – OR – attend our “Child Passenger Safety and Car Seat Installation” training. Dates can be found on our website: www.casarockcounty.org/educational-resources