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Overcome the worry when your child is riding in someone else’s car

More and more parents are increasingly relying on others to get their children where they need to go. Carpooling to field trips and camp, rides from relatives, friends and child care providers are just a few of the transport realities that many parents face, particularly in summer when schools are out.

While we’re grateful to those who drive our children around for us, it’s hard not to worry, even just a little bit—ok maybe a lot—about our kids’ safety. From grandparents to sports coaches, we know the people who help transport our children are doing their best and want to keep our kids safe, too. But, including us as parents, do we all really understand child passenger safety and BC’s laws?

child in car seat 

In the recent BCAA Provincial Survey, a high majority of parents (74%!) say they still worry and have big concerns about their children’s safety when they’re not the ones behind the wheel. Many admit that they’re not even sure that the ones who are driving their children fully know the relevant laws and liabilities.

Ok, this is good. It’s good for all of us to admit that whether we’re driving our own children or other people’s little ones, we all need to know more about child passenger safety including how to properly secure a child car seat. Acknowledging this information gap is a great first step—the next is to fill that gap and for parents and those who transport their children to talk about it with one another.

Sure, it can be an awkward conversation, but this may be one of the most important conversations we’ll have considering how precious the ‘cargo’. Here are some key points and tips from BCAA Child Passenger Safety experts to help increase our knowledge and get those conversations going for everyone’s peace of mind.


Understand the driver’s responsibility

BC laws state that the driver is responsible for a child’s safe transport and can be fined if they break the law and are liable in an accident. Parents—make sure that the driver is clear on the laws and proper child car seat installation and fully accepts the responsibility. If you sense any hesitation or a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the task, it’s a good sign to explore another way to get your child where they need to go. More details about the law can be found in BC’s Motor Vehicle Act, Division 36—Child Seating and Restraint Systems.

Must do’s as a parent

While the liability lies with the driver, it’s the parent’s job to understand and communicate the rules to the driver and make sure that the child car seat or booster seat meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and is installed properly.

Choose the correct seat for your child’s age and size

When finding a child car seat, choose one that meets age, height and weight requirements and complies with Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Ensure it fits your child and car. Get more details on choosing the correct child car seat.

Learn and practice how to correctly install your child car seat and secure your child in it

Research shows that a properly installed child car seat reduces the risk of fatality by 71% and the risk of serious injury by 67% (Transport Canada).

Bring your own booster or child car seat and install it yourself

Plan ahead so that you know your child will be transported in their proper child car seat that’s been installed correctly. When installing the seat in someone else’s car, find the Universal Anchor System or check that there is a lap/shoulder seatbelt and that it locks. If using a forward-facing child seat, locate the tether anchor in the position where the car seat will be installed. In Canada, all forward-facing child seats must be tethered. Learn more about how to properly install a child car seat.

Using hired services

When riding with a child in any hired service such as a taxi, ride share, shuttle or tour bus, you should ensure full responsibility for the child’s safety. Never expect drivers of these services to have knowledge of child passenger safety or to help with it – even if a hired service offers child car seats as an option. If possible, bring your own booster or child car seat and install it yourself.

Register your child for BCAA Kids Go Free—for FREE

Make sure your kids don’t find themselves stuck at the side of the road. Parents, if you have a BCAA Plus or Premier Membership, register your child for BCAA Kids Go Free so they can receive the same roadside assistance coverage that you have when they’re riding in anyone else’s car. How to register: Kids go Free is only included with a BCAA Plus or Premier Membership. Log into your account online to register your child or contact us at 1.888.268.2222.

Become well-educated on child passenger safety

Use a variety of information sources which include your car seat instructions, vehicle owner’s manual, Transport Canada and BCAA’s Child Passenger Safety online resource, which offers a wealth of information including instructional videos.

Need to speak with a BCAA expert?

To talk to a BCAA Child Passenger Safety Educator or get connected to an educator in the community, contact BCAA at 1.877.247.5551.

Photo credits: Getty Images

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