Where Is the Safest Place to Ride?

Finding the safest place for all occupants riding in a vehicle can be a challenge, prompting questions such as: Front or back seat? Air bag or no air bag? Lap and shoulder safety belt or Lap only? All of these factors and more need to be considered when placing passengers in the safest location.

The center, rear seating position is the safest place for all passengers to ride since it is the furthest away from any point of impact. Unfortunately, only one passenger can occupy that space. It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that all children 12 years and younger ride in the back seat in a child restraint that is appropriate for their age, weight, height and developmental needs.

Air bags when used correctly and combined with a lap and shoulder safety belt can save lives. Air bags can also be dangerous if the occupant is in the deployment zone. Children in rear facing child restraints should NEVER be transported in front of a frontal air bag. If a child must be transported in the passenger seat with a frontal air bag, it should be the child who can be kept furthest away from the air bad deployment zone.

Typically, that would be a child in a forward facing seat with an internal harness system with the vehicle seat moved as far away as possible. Vehicle owners manual and child restraint system manufacturer's instructions should be consulted whenever placing a child near any type of air bag.

Lap only belts can be used for installing child restraint systems, but do not over any upper body support for older children or an adult passenger. Booster seats require a lap and shoulder belt system for this same reason. In addition, more serious injuries may occur to a child in a booster seat using a lap only belt than using the lap only belt by itself, because the child's center of gravity is raised.

Attending a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) check up event to work with a certified CPS technician is the best way to determine the safest way for everyone in a vehicle to travel. Please visit www.childsafetyseat.org/calendar.html to find an event in your area.


RV Travel

Traveling safely in an RV can be challenging and is rarely ideal for transporting children. Lack of seating positions with safety belts or seating positions that face rearward or side facing can create problems. Child Restraint Systems should never be installed in vehicle seats that do not face the front of the vehicle.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Check the driving compartment for vehicle seats appropriate for installing a child restraint system (CRS). Unlike Class A's, the smaller Class B and Class C RV's are built on a conventional truck/van chassis, so the cockpit shares the structural and safety features of those vehicles.
  • Consider using a trailer instead of an RV. The CRS has a better chance of being properly installed in the conventional vehicle that is towing the trailer.
  • If the family is towing a passenger vehicle behind the RC for jaunts around destination areas, consider driving this vehicle separately instead and transporting children in it.
  • Make sure that all occupants stay buckled up while the RV is moving and that there is enough seating to properly accommodate all occupants.
  • Resource: RV Consumer Group, http://rv.org/index/html.

Traffic Safety Connection May 2010