When you have a child, it’s essential to take safety precautions when driving. One way to do this is by using child locks in your car. But how do child locks work in cars?
Child locks work in cars by engaging a switch that prevents the rear doors from opening from the inside. The safety feature helps prevent children from accidentally opening the door and falling out of the car.
In short, child locks are a life-saving feature in cars. But how do they work, and why are they so important? This post will answer those questions and more, so you can understand the importance of child locks and how to use them properly.
What Are Child Locks in Cars and What Do They Do?
Child locks in cars are a safety feature that keeps children from opening the door while the vehicle is in motion. This prevents the handle from being turned from the inside, so the door would still be locked even if a child did manage to turn it.
Most models of child locks can be activated and deactivated by pressing a button on the driver or passenger door. That way, you can quickly turn them on when you have your kids in the car, and turn them off when they’re not with you.
Some newer cars have child locks that are automatically engaged when the vehicle is put into drive, so parents don’t have to remember to turn them on themselves. That said, child locks are just one of many safety features designed to keep children safe in cars.
- Seat belts
All of these features work together to help make sure that everyone arrives safe and sound at their destination.
Note: Most older car models have a child lock on the back doors, which can be activated by lifting a lever.
How To Use Child Locks in Cars
Now that you know what child locks are and what they do, it’s essential to learn how to use them. Generally, the steps to follow differ between newer and older car models, so I’ll describe both. That should help you regardless of what kind of car you have.
Pro tip: Be sure to consult your car’s user manual to locate the child locks and to learn how to engage them.
Using Child Locks in Newer Car Models
If you have a newer car model, there’s a good chance that the child locks automatically activate when driving at speeds above 12 MPH (20 KPH). That’s a good safety measure, but it also means that you need to know how to engage the child locks manually when you’re driving slower than that.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Start by finding the child lock switch. In most cases, it’s located on the driver’s door, but it could also be on the passenger door.
- Turn the switch to the “on” position. You’ll know it’s in the correct position when you hear a click and see the locks lie flush forward.
Note: If you’ve arrived at your destination and need to disengage the child locks, repeat the steps above but turn the switch to the “off” position. The locks will lie flush backward when disengaged.
Using Child Locks in Older Car Models
Older car models usually don’t have child locks that activate automatically, which means you’ll need to engage them manually every time you get in the car.
Fortunately, it’s a pretty straightforward process:
- Open the door that you want to child-lock.
- Look for a small lever near the base of the door. In most cases, it’s located on the inside of the door, but it could also be on the outside.
- Once you’ve found the lever, push it up to engage the child lock. You’ll know it’s in the correct position when you hear a click and see the locks lie flush forward.
The following video by Toyota may come in handy if you need a practical demo on how to operate child locks:
Note: If you need to disengage the child lock, repeat the steps above but push the lever down instead of up. The locks will lie flush backward when disengaged.
When To Use Child Locks in Cars
Now that you know how to activate and deactivate child locks, it’s essential to know when you should use them. Here are a few critical situations:
- Always use child locks whenever small children are in the car, even if they’re not sitting in the backseat. Kids can be unpredictable and might try to open the door even when the car is moving. They also try to open the window, so be sure the window lock is on.
- Use child locks when driving on a busy street or highway. That’s because there’s a greater risk of an accident, and you don’t want your kids to be able to open the door and wander off into traffic.
- Use child locks when you’re parked in a public place. That’s because there’s a risk of theft or vandalism, and you don’t want your kids to be able to open the door and wander off.
Extra tip: If your child is under three years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends getting them a rear-facing car seat. That way, they’ll be better protected in case of an accident, and you won’t need to worry about them opening the door (source).
For starters, try this Graco TriRide 3-in-1 Car Seat (link to Amazon). It’s a flexible seat you can use as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a booster seat. Besides, the 6-position recline and 10-position headrest make it comfy for your child, while the cup holders are a nice bonus.
Child locks are an essential safety feature in cars, and it’s important to know how to use them correctly. Always use child locks whenever small children are in the car, and be sure to engage them when driving on a busy street or highway.
If your car didn’t come with child locks installed, then you can purchase them at most auto parts stores or online. Just ensure that you get the correct type of child locks for your car. If you’re not confident in your ability to install them, take the car to a professional.
Teresa is a Registered Nurse in the State of Texas and the mother of two. Opinions and insights on childcare are based on professional knowledge, academic research, and personal experience.
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