When your children were little, strapping them into the car was sometimes like wrestling with an octopus—but because you took the time to strap them in carefully, your babies and toddlers were always as safe as possible in the car.
As time wore on and booster seats became the latest safety measure for kids between about 5-12 years or age, your seat belt buckling duty probably ended. You made a conscious effort to make sure seatbelts were fastened, but you may have forgotten to double-check once in a while. On those days, you hoped your years of reminders paid off and that your child remembered to buckle herself up. Once they hit the age of 13 or 14, you forgot to check altogether.
A new effort from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that your children may not be buckling up out of habit, after all. In a new ad campaign, which will be featured on television, radio, print, digital, and billboards, NHTSA urges parents to take a stand and insist on seat belts before the car gets rolling.
Why the Sudden Seat Belt Action for Tweens?
The ads aren’t really aimed at tweens—they are aimed at the parents of tweens. Why? After reviewing data from the past five years, NHTSA saw that 1,552 children between the ages of 8 and 14 were killed in auto accidents, and almost half of them were not wearing a seat belt.
As children move from dependent youngsters to young adults, they approach the transition differently. Some are able to apply what parents taught them at a young age and use that as a stepping stone to independence—things like doing chores without being asked, buckling up, or doing their homework unassisted. Others will take this time to rebel against rules and limitations that their parents set over the years to feel independent, and seat belts may be one of the first things to be ignored as children begin to outgrow boosters and car seats.
NHTSA found, too, that as parents shuttle their older children back and forth, they may forget to remind their young passengers to use their seatbelts entirely. These small trips unbelted may lead to building a habit with your tween of not buckling up, which could put them at risk throughout their childhood and lives.
Here’s Looking at You, Parents
Even if you do not come across one of these new ads, make seat belt use a new requirement of your vehicle. You may get some eye rolls from your soon-to-be teens from the back seat, but you can set off on each journey knowing that you are helping your children build better habits for a lifetime of safe driving.
Do you have friends with tweens? Share the news with them on social media to spread the word about the newest seat belt efforts!