Tips to Keep Children in Child Care Safe Inside and Outside Cars

Child being buckled into safety seat

Child care providers play an important role in helping children learn how to be safe around cars. Whether you are taking preschoolers on a field trip or providing transportation for children to or from the child care program, you are the children’s role model for vehicle safety, both inside and outside the car or bus. Remember that staying safe around cars is something children need to learn. Teach the following rules to prevent vehicle-related injuries while children are in your child care program.

Inside a Vehicle

  • Always use seat belts and car seats when traveling by car. Insist that children be buckled up before the car starts moving. Keep children in age-appropriate child safety seats until they are large enough for a lap and shoulder belt to fit correctly. If you are transporting children on a field trip or to and from child care, insist that parents supply the appropriate safety seat, and be sure it is installed correctly.
  • Load a few children at a time for field trips. If you are loading children onto a bus for a field trip, have one adult stay on the bus while another adult brings one or two children at a time to the bus. Working with a few children at a time will help you be sure everyone is strapped into their safety seats or boosters safely.
  • “Click, Click, Be Quick!” is a simple reminder you can give to children old enough to fasten their own seat belt or safety seat harness.
  • To avoid burns during summer, store car seats and boosters inside the child care center, or cover them with a towel or sheet when not in use.
  • Avoid distractions while driving. Keep purses, diaper bags, and other dangerous items out of reach. If children ask you to look  at them or hand them something while you are driving, explain that it isn’t safe. Having a second adult on the child care bus will ensure that the driver is not distracted. If you need to help a child when you are driving, find a safe place to stop the vehicle first.
  • Teach children to sit calmly and quietly while riding in a car or bus. Leave toys that encourage active behavior at the child care center.
  • Be sure that all children are off the bus. Before leaving a vehicle with children from your child care program, check that all children are out of the vehicle. Double-check in, under, and behind all vehicle seats to be sure nobody has been overlooked or left behind. 
  • Prevent UFOs. Secure large loose objects in the vehicle, so they do not become dangerous projectiles that could hurt you or the children in a crash. Use seat belts to secure unused booster seats in the vehicle.

Near Cars Outside

  • Be sure play areas are fenced. Be sure gates are closed and latched whenever children are outside. Teach children that it’s important to always stay inside the fence unless they are with a child care provider or parent.
  • Do not allow children to play near or behind parked cars. Parking lots are not safe play spaces for children, even if the cars are empty.
  • Supervise walking field trips carefully. Secure infants in strollers or buggies. Enlist extra adults to help supervise walks. Divide up children so each adult has responsibility for only a few children. Insist that everyone hold hands.
  • Teach children safe street crossing guidelines. Cross the street only at crosswalks, not in the middle of the street. Stop at all corners. Look both ways before crossing the street. Walk, rather than run, across the street, and hold the hand of an adult. Use the same rules for parking lots.

For More Information

To learn more about safety in child care, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: