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Vehicles can pose a serious risk to your kids long before they’re able to drive, and one particular risk is on the rise.
Hot cars kill dozens of young children each year – a record 51 in 2018 – but your teen can help drive this number down. Once your teen is experienced enough to drive with passengers, he or she needs to know how to keep those passengers safe, no matter their age. And even if you don’t expect your teen to drive with young kids in the car, this knowledge can help your teen spot the risks and teach them to speak up when needed.
Here’s what your teen needs to know.
Understand the risks
Since 1998, almost 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke, which happens when a child’s body overheats inside a car. Though these deaths are more common in the summer months, they have occurred in every month of the year and in all but three states. Young kids can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults or exit vehicles on their own, so drivers, passengers and pedestrians need to help protect them.
Your teen should pay careful attention to the temperature inside their vehicle anytime they drive or ride with a young child and to take action if they ever see a child alone in a car. Most of these deaths occur when a child is forgotten in a car, so your teen should never assume that a parent or caregiver will be right back.
Always keep the car locked
The next biggest risk is kids gaining access to a vehicle on their own, so teach your teen to always keep their car locked. Even when parked at school or the home of a friend or relative, this simple step ensures no one can enter your teen’s vehicle without their knowledge.
A little training can help
In addition to these reminders, encourage your teen to take a quick online training on this topic. The National Safety Council offers a new free training that only takes 15 minutes to complete and educates your teen on how to spot and prevent hot car risks to young children.
Your teen will receive a certificate of completion and gain the knowledge needed to protect young passengers in the car. It might feel odd to talk with your teen about these dangers – your teen should drive passenger-free for at least six months after licensure, after all – but it’s important to stress these dangers early. One day, your teen will be responsible for passengers and when that time comes he or she needs to be prepared to keep them safe.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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