Everything changes when you become a parent for the first time. You need to completely rethink many things you might have previously taken for granted.
Driving is no exception. Is your car child-safe?
There are a few things you can do to prepare your car for your new baby, and to keep things safe as they grow into a toddler, and then into a small child. But first, let’s take a look at a safety feature that comes as standard in nearly every single car – the child lock.
The Child Lock in Cars – What Is It?
When they’re activated, they prevent rear seat passengers from opening the doors from the inside – both when the car’s stationary and when it’s moving.
If you’re a brand-new parent taking care of a new born, you probably won’t need to use your car’s child lock just yet. But once your child gets a little bit older, you’ll be very glad it’s there.
Small children can get restless, especially if they’re sat in a car. They like to explore their surroundings, and they learn by touching things. So if they find the car’s door handle and start playing with it, it could end in disaster.
That’s where the child lock comes in.
How Do Child Locks in Cars Work?
How you activate the child locks will vary slightly depending on the make and model of your car. But usually, it’s simply a case of opening your rear doors and looking for a small switch on the edge of the door. In many models you’ll be able to operate that switch by hand, though you might need a key.
In more recent models, you might be able to activate your child locks electronically. There might be a door control unit on your dashboard, or perhaps on your steering wheel. To find out how to activate the child locks in your car, just check your manual. This will also give you a brief overview of some of the other child safety features in your car.
You’ll likely only find child locks in your car’s rear doors. This is because, with very few exceptions, children are legally required to sit in car seats in the back of your car. Again, it depends on the model – some cars may have a child lock in the front passenger seat, but most will not.
Is it Illegal to Not Use Child Locks?
At the moment, there are no laws concerning child locks in cars.
There’s nothing to say that cars have to have them, and there’s nothing to say that you have to use them. They’re there for your peace of mind, and for your child’s safety.
Because there are no laws surrounding child locks in cars, there’s nothing to say at what age you can stop using them.
This is all down to the child. It’s up to you to set your own rules with your children in the car. You might want to establish a system where they don’t get out until you say it’s OK for them to do so. Nobody will understand your child’s responsibility levels more than you, so nobody will know better than you when it’s time to stop using child locks.
And remember that, as a driver, you’re legally required to ensure that all passengers in your car aged 14 or under wear a seatbelt or are in the correct child seat for their height and weight.
Child Car Safety – The Essentials
If you’re a new parent, the most important thing to get right in your car is the child car seat. There are strict laws governing the types of seats that are needed, and when they’re needed.
Many new parents find this issue confusing, so we put together this helpful guide to child car seats. It will tell you everything you need to know, from what the law says, to what sort of seat you’ll need for each stage of your child’s development.
At Go Girl, we have car insurance policies that place the needs of new parents at the forefront. If you have a child’s car seat fitted in your vehicle and you are involved in an accident, or if it is damaged following a fire or theft, we will pay towards the cost of a replacement seat even if it doesn’t appear to be damaged. For more information, please refer to the policy wording.