Buying a Family Friendly Vehicle

by Allana Pinkerton, CPS Instructor/Caring for Kids in Cars, Inc., and Mike James/Sr. CPS Instructor

Shopping for a new car can be a fun and exciting time for parents and children. However, when it comes to safety, it can be confusing. There is so much conflicting information available and often the features of the vehicle catch the shopper’s eye and they forget about the safety of their children. One of the questions asked most often is “What is the safest vehicle for my family, a car, a van or a SUV?� Here are some tips to help you pick out the right vehicle for your family.

First, of course, is your budget. There are plenty of economical vehicles and expensive vehicles that meet the stringent government crash standards. But what about the child passengers you have in your vehicle? How many of them ride in traditional car seats and booster seats, and where will your car pool kids sit? You’ll need a vehicle with enough seating spaces for everyone to have a seat belt and booster seats need a lap/shoulder belt (the adult seatbelt system). When you shop for a vehicle bring your children and their carseats. Install the carseats in the new vehicle before you buy it. If the carseats don’t install easily or they don’t fit well at all, then you need to consider another vehicle. Remember that your child MUST be buckled correctly on every trip, if not, then your child may be injured during a vehicle accident.

Now that we know we can safely put all the passengers in the vehicle, look at storage space. Is there enough to hold everything you usually have in the car, plus more!! Can you safely carry everything? During a vehicle accident all loose objects can become flying objects. Toys and Game Boy’s easily become flying objects during a crash. If you are buying a SUV or station wagon, be sure the storage area has a cage or netting available to keep items from flying around the vehicle during the accident.

Consider the safety of all passengers first when buying that new vehicle. After everyone gets buckled in safely, you can then look at options like a DVD player, Satellite radio and sport trim.

-- Allana Pinkerton

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