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More B.C. parents relying on others to drive their kids – New survey shows growing safety concerns

Burnaby, B.C., June 26, 2019 – A new survey for BCAA shows that busy B.C. parents are increasingly relying on others to get their kids where they need to go, raising concerns about unsafe travel and poor understanding of B.C.’s child passenger laws.

Carpooling to field trips and camp, rides from relatives, friends and child care providers are just a few transport realities that parents face, particularly in summer when schools are out.

According to the BCAA survey, 77% of B.C. parents with children in booster or child car seats, expect their kids to travel in another person’s vehicle this summer, with almost half (49%) saying their kids are riding with others more than ever before. At the same time, parents have concerns, with 74% saying that they worry about their children’s safety when they’re not the ones behind the wheel and 25% admitting to not being sure that those driving know the relevant laws and liabilities.

For Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement, these stats are concerning, but not surprising.

“We hear a lot of concerns. Parents call us with questions about relevant laws; we hear of children arriving home and excitedly telling their parents that they didn’t have to sit in their booster seat today or they got to ride in the front. Naturally, this is an upsetting thing for a parent to hear.”

The latest statistics show that motor vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of accidental death for Canadian children. Child car seats, when used correctly, reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% and serious injury by 67%.

“Kids are precious cargo,” Pettipas says. “It’s reality that you’re not always going to be the one driving your child to activities and appointments, but never assume your child’s driver knows the laws or how to properly secure a child car seat. It’s worth an awkward conversation for your own peace of mind.”

To make sure kids are safe when driving with others, BCAA offers the following advice:

  • Driver responsibility – B.C. laws state that the driver is responsible for a child’s safe transport and can be fined if they break the law and liable in an accident. Parents should make sure that the driver is clear on the laws and proper seat installation and fully accepts the responsibility. If a parent senses any hesitation or a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the task, it’s a good sign to explore another way to get their child where they need to go.
  • Parent’s job – 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.
  • Plan ahead – parents are strongly advised to plan ahead. They should bring their own booster or child car seat and install it themselves. When installing the seat in another person’s vehicle, parents need to locate 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.
  • Using hired services – Parents riding with their child in hired services such as taxis or ride shares, should ensure full responsibility for the child’s safety. BCAA encourages parents to 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.

BCAA takes child passenger safety seriously, providing information for parents as well as training child passenger educators in communities across the province. BCAA’s Community Child Car Seat Program donates child car seats to non-profit agencies and community groups working with families in need across the province and this year distributed its 10,000th child car seat.

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About the survey

Conducted by Insights West, the results are based on an online study conducted from June 7 to June 11, 2019, among 239 B.C. parents of children in a car seat or booster seat. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/ 6.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sara Holland
BCAA Communications