Safety First

Actionable quick tips for making sure your child stays safe in the car

Parents can be distracted by many different factors when they're driving with a child in a car seat.

Photo by Getty Images

You're driving along, when suddenly little Sally hurdles her Cheerios at you from the back seat and begins screaming at an ear-splitting decibel level comparable to the last concert you went to (and you haven't been to one since she was born). You quickly look back at your precious daughter, averting your eyes from the road. Despite her wails, Sally seems alright, so you focus on the road again, just in time to swerve to avoid hitting a piece of tire.

Your child is your most precious cargo, yet also a distraction. This is a juxtaposition parents face when driving with their children. Even if you're not distracted by your child, you might get distracted by any number of other things. It's no wonder 69% of parents and 73% of new parents reported that they "actively worry about their children's safety in a car," according to a new study from Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll conducted this study on Volvo's behalf from May 21-29, 2019. For the study, The Harris Poll surveyed 2,000 licensed drivers ages 18 and older. Of these drivers, 1,236 (61.8%) were new parents – parents who had children age 2 or under at the time of the study. The remaining 764 (38.2%) drivers were adults of all ages. The survey results were published in "Volvo Reports: Child Safety in the Back Seat."

Historically, safety has always been a prime focus for Volvo. In 1959, the automaker invented the three-point safety belt, in 1964 they tested the first child restraint prototype, and in 1978 Volvo introduced the child safety booster cushion. Volvo and Britax, a car seat company which started in Europe and expanded to the United States in 1996, have partnered to come up with a variety of practical tips for parents based on the survey results.

Car Seat Research and Installation

Do your homework.

Sixty-six percent of new parents found researching car seats and car safety tools to be overwhelming. The amount of time and effort required to narrow down the many car seat options may be daunting, but it is crucial that you make the right decision. You must find a car seat that works with your vehicle, child, and budget.

Contact your car seat and/or vehicle manufacturer if you have questions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that 59% of child seats are not installed correctly. Read your car seat instructions and your vehicle's owner manual to determine whether the car seat should be secured using the seat belt or the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system. Using both simultaneously is ineffective and discouraged, as it can lessen the security that each separately provides. Be sure to check your vehicle's manual and contact your vehicle manufacturer if you have further questions.

Use third-party resources if needed.

Safe Kids Worldwide offers a variety of resources for parents, including car seat checkups to ensure you've installed your car seat correctly. Parents can also meet with a Certified Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician, who will teach them to install their car seat. Often, local police departments and fire stations have a CPS technician on staff who can help for free.

Car Seat Use

Properly secure your child's harness.

NHTSA found that nearly 60% of child harnesses were too loose. Don't allow your child to wear a thick jacket or be covered by a blanket while in the car seat, as either of these means the harness can't be as snug as it should be. Additionally, make sure you position the harness correctly – it should be on your child's pelvis and around their chest and shoulders.

Your child's weight and height are more important than their age.

Car seat and booster seat (or "child passenger restraint system") laws vary by state. Your child's weight and height are more important than their age when deciding when to allow them to face forward in their car seat, move to a booster seat, or begin sitting in the front passenger seat.

Keep your child facing backwards in their car seat "until they reach the maximum height and weight restrictions for the seat, as rear-facing seats spread crash forces more evenly across the back of the child seat, and thereby better protect their vulnerable neck." Likewise, even once your child reaches the age at which they are technically allowed to begin sitting in a booster seat rather than a car seat, or in the front seat rather than the back seat, do not make either change if your child does not yet weigh enough and/or is not yet tall enough.

Other Tips for Parents

Always wear your seat belt.

According to the study, 71% of parents and 87% of new parents have unbuckled their seatbelts while driving with their children. This is unsafe. If you want to comfort your child or pick up their toy, pull off the road to a safe area and park before you unbuckle.

Reduce and contain loose items.

Don't keep too many items, especially large ones, in your car. Ensure that the items you do have in your car are contained as much as possible. If your child throws something at you while you're driving, this can distract you – 20% of parents report that their child has thrown a toy at them from the back seat. During a crash, objects flying through the air can cause serious harm to you or your children.

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Volvo is transitioning to an all-electric lineup.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars is the latest company to take their commitment to electric powertrains to a new level. Unlike other automakers, like Land Rover who is promising an electric option for its model lineup, Volvo is planning to make their whole lineup electric by 2030.

This means that there will only be all-electric cars and SUVs in its global portfolio and all internal combustion engine and hybrid models will be phased out. By 2025, it aims for 50 percent of its global sales to consist of fully electric cars, with the rest hybrids. By 2040, the company hopes to be carbon neutral. Nissan has similar goals.

Volvo XC40 The Volvo XC40 is currently offered as an all-electric model.Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo XC40

Additionally, the brand is rolling out a new commercial strategy that will have them invest heavily in online sales channels in a move to reduce the complexity of its product offerings and set pricing on models, eliminating bargaining at the point of sale, something that the Saturn brand was known for. Via VolvoCars.com buyers will be able to choose from pre-configured electric Volvos that are ready for ordering and quick delivery.

"The future of Volvo Cars is defined by three pillars: electric, online and growth," says Lex Kerssemakers, Head of Global Commercial Operations at Volvo Cars. "We want to offer our customers peace of mind and a care-free way of having a Volvo, by taking away complexity while getting and driving the car. Simplification and convenience are key to everything we do."

Customer offerings will all be housed under one brand, Care by Volvo, which was, until now, the name of the company's subscription service platform.

Dealerships and sales associates still factor into the company's plans. That's good, because many states require new car sales to occur only though an authorized dealership, a point of contention for emerging brands due to the expense and logistic annoyance of establishing a dealer network. Dealerships will be tasked with "a variety of important services such as selling, preparing, delivering and servicing cars" according to a release.

Volvo online ordering and financing process

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

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"Online and off-line need to be fully and seamlessly integrated," added Lex Kerssemakers. "Wherever the customer is in their journey – online, in a showroom, in a Volvo Studio, or driving the car – the customer experience needs to be top-notch."

The purchase of an electric Volvo will include a package of traditional extras including service, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance (where available), and home charging options. Sans the insurance, many electric vehicle manufacturers offer these extras already.

"There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Cars. "We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030. It will allow us to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change."

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Volvo placed several cars on the annual list of safest vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

This week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released their list of the 2021 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles. The models earning this designation are the cream of the crop earning high marks for their safety features, crashworthiness, and headlight visibility.

To qualify as a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ winner, vehicles must score at least a Good rating in the driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. They must also get an Advanced or Superior rating for available front crash prevention — vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. Finally, their headlights must be rated as Acceptable or Good.

The vehicles listed below checked all those boxes.

Click here to see 2020's results.

2021 Acura RDX

2020 Acura RDX

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Acura RDX is a four-door midsize luxury SUV. It earned all Good crash test ratings. The only sore spot was the SUV's standard front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system, which was rated as a two out of three.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX Advance Photo courtesy of Acura

The 2021 Acura TLX earned the highest marks possible in every category of testing.

2021 Audi A6

2020 Audi A6

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A6 is a luxury large four-door sedan. It earned all Good crash test ratings and a mixed Good and Acceptable headlight rating (varies by trim level). It performed better in the front crash protection scenarios earning two Superior ratings.

2021 Audi A6 Offroad

2020 Audi A6 Allroad Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi's wagon version of the A6 Allroad earned the same crash test and crash avoidance and mitigation scores as its sedan stablemate.

2021 Audi A7

2021 Audi A7 Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi A7 earned the highest scores possible in all by one category - headlights. There, it managed to only get an Acceptable rating.

2021 Audi E-Tron

2020 Audi E-Tron SUV Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Like many models on this list, the Audi E-Tron is plenty crashworthy, scoring all Good marks. However, its headlights are only Acceptable in lower trim levels while top grades get a Good rating.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The sloped-roof version of the Audi E-Tron shares most of its components with the model. It earned the exact same marks as the E-Ton - all Good except for lower-grade models with non-premium headlights get an Acceptable rating.

2021 Cadillac XT6

2020 Cadillac XT6 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac XT6 is the automaker's only entry on this list. It earns all Good crash test ratings, an Acceptable headlight rating, and Superior front crash protection ratings for its standard and available systems. LATCH ease of use is only rated as Acceptable.

2021 Ford Explorer

2020 Ford Explorer Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Explorer isn't perfect, but it is nearly there. The SUV has earned all Good ratings from IIHS except in the headlight and LATCH system categories where it's ranked as merely Acceptable.

2021 Genesis G70

2020 Genesis G70

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motor LLC

Despite being the smallest car Genesis builds, the G70 is categorized by IIHS as a four-door luxury large car. While it earned all Good marks for crashworthiness and the all-important headlight test, the car's LATCH system was given just Marginal marks.

2021 Genesis G90

2020 Genesis G90 2020 Genesis G90 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

IIHS also categorizes the Genesis G90 as a four-door luxury large car. It too earned all Good crash test ratings but its LATCH system fared slightly better than the G70's, getting an Acceptable rating.

2021 Honda Accord

Honda Accord Honda Accord Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The 2021 Honda Accord earned its designation by getting a perfect score in every category. Depending on the trim level, the car's headlights either earned a top Good rating or just an Acceptable mark.

2021 Honda Insight

2020 Hyundai Insight

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Insight is a four-door small sedan with big appeal for commuters. It has earned the highest marks IIHS gives in each area it was evaluated. The Insight is one of the few models to earn just high praise.

2021 Honda Odyssey

2021 Honda Odyssey 2021 Honda Odyssey gets $1,000 starting price bump, but one grade gets a big decrease Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Odyssey was refreshed for the 2021 model year, a move that has improved its IIHS crash test results. The Odyssey received all Good crashworthiness ratings but its headlights were only deemed Acceptable.

2021 Hyundai Nexo

2020 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai-branded hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is categorized as a midsize luxury SUV by IIHS. This probably has something to do with its high price tag. The Nexo scored nearly all top-tier ratings. The exception is in the vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention test where it earned an Advanced rating.

2021 Hyundai Palisade

2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is a family hauler that easily competes with more premium-priced SUVs. The three-row SUV scored Good on all its crash tests and earned the highest technology and headlight ratings.

2021 Kia K5

2021 Kia K5 Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia K5 did well in IIHS crash testing, but its headlights didn't fare as well. Depending on the grade, their score was either Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor. The K5's standard front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system scored just a two out of three and LATCH ease of use scored an Acceptable rating. These ratings only apply to K5s produced after November 2020.

2021 Lexus ES 350

2020 Lexus ES

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The 2020 Lexus ES 350 is a four-door midsize luxury car that was redesigned for the 2019 model year. It scored all Good ratings in the crashworthiness tests but earned just Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

2021 Lexus IS

2021 Lexus IS Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus gave the IS a massive improvement for the 2021 model year and it's paid off - not just in terms of drivability, but also safety. It scored top Good ratings in all tests except the headlights section where it lower trim levels earn an Acceptable rating while higher grades get a Good.

2021 Lexus NX

2018 Lexus NX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

IIHS categorizes the four-door Lexus NX as a midsize luxury sedan. It, like the Honda Insight, earned all top-tier marks inn every testing category except for the LATCH ease of use, where it merely scored an Acceptable rating.

2021 Mazda CX-3

2020 Mazda CX-3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

As far as four-door small SUVs go, the Mazda CX-3 is one of the safest. It scored all Good ratings in the crashworthiness tests but earned just Acceptable headlight ratings. It has Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection and Advanced front vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention. The SUV's LATCH system was rated as Acceptable.

2021 Mazda CX-30

2020 Mazda CX-3 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The new-in-2020 Mazda CX-30 has its rating only apply to vehicles built after September 2020. The SUV received all Good crashworthiness ratings but its standard headlights were rated Poor. Everything else about the car was highly rated.

2021 Mazda CX-5

2020 Mazda CX-5

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

IIHS's ratings of the four-door Mazda CX-5 small SUV apply only to models with the available front crash prevention system. When equipped with that system, the CX-5 gets rated as having Good crashworthiness, Good and Acceptable headlights because the lights vary by trim level, Superior front vehicle-to-vehicle crash protection with its optional system, and Advanced front vehicle-to-vehicle (standard) and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention (available) with the systems.

2021 Mazda CX-9

2021 Mazda CX-9 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The 2021 Mazda CX-9 has received all Good marks except in the crash avoidance and mitigation category. There, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system only received an Advanced score. The CX-9's LATCH system was not evaluated.

2021 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback

2020 Mazda Mazda3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback earned all top-tier ratings from IIHS except in the headlight test where it had an Acceptable or Good rating, depending on the headlights offered on the model's trim level.

2021 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan

2020 Mazda Mazda3

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Like the hatchback variant, the four-door Mazda Mazda3 small sedan earned all top-tier ratings from IIHS except in the headlight test where it had an Acceptable or Good rating, depending on the trim level chosen.

2021 Mazda Mazda6

2020 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The four-door midsize Mazda Mazda6 got all Good marks in the six crashworthiness categories. The car's headlights earned Good and Acceptable headlight ratings as the lights vary by trim level.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes-Benz GLE Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLE was tested with optional front crash prevention technology. It earned all Good marks but its headlights were split between Good and Acceptable, depending on trim level. The car's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system was only rated as Basic.

2021 Nissan Altima

2020 Nissan Altima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan's Altima received all Good crash test ratings but its headlights earned just an Acceptable score.

2021 Nissan Maxima

2020 Nissan Maxima Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The four-door Nissan Maxima sedan is one of the models that earned a nearly perfect score. The only place where it faltered is with its headlamps, which scored just an Acceptable rating. This rating only applies to Maximas built after November 2020.

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue received outstanding marks in all IIHS evaluation categories including the headlight and LATCH tests.

2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 Subaru Ascent Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Subaru's largest SUV received all Good scores in IIHS testing thanks in large part to its standard EyeSight safety technology. The three-row Subaru Ascent has a high strength-to-weight ratio.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, earned a perfect score in all the categories IIHS tested.

2021 Subaru Forester

2020 Subaru Forester

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Forester small SUV earned a Good rating in every IIHS testing category, much like the rest of its Subaru family.

2021 Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Legacy's scores are the same as the Subaru Forester's. It got all Good marks, including its headlights, which is a higher mark than what they earned last year.

2021 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The Subaru Outback was awarded all Good and higher scores in IIHS testing this year.

2021 Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 all-electric sedan earned all Good ratings in its crashworthiness test but didn't score quite as well in the front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluation where it got just an Advanced rating. The car's LATCH system is rated as Acceptable.

2021 Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

All of the Toyota Camry sedan's crashworthiness scores earned a Good rating. Its headlamps were only rated Acceptable whereas the available ones received a Good mark.

2021 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Highlander does as well as most other three-row SUVs in IIHS testing - all Good scores except a Good/Acceptable split in the headlights test.

2021 Toyota Sienna

2021 Toyota Highlander

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Sienna was redesigned for the 2021 model year as a hybrid-only minivan. The van's redesign has been engineered well, earning it all Good scores from IIHS. Like many other vehicles, the Sienna's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system is just basic.

2021 Volvo S60

2021 Volvo S60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo S60 has earned perfect marks from IIHS except when it comes the LATCH system ease of use. There, it scores just an Acceptable rating.

2021 Volvo S60 Recharge

Like the traditional S60, the S60 Recharge has gotten all top ratings except in the LATCH category.

2021 Volvo V60

2020 Volvo V60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo V60 is the wagon version of the S60. It has gotten the same score.

2021 Volvo V60 Recharge

The V60 and V60 Recharge have the same relationship to each other as the S60 and S60 Recharge so it makes sense that they have the same scores. The V60 and V60 Recharge scored all Goods, except in the LATCH category, where the mark was Acceptable.

2021 Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC40 scored the best of any Volvo on this list. It earned all Good crashworthiness marks, has Superior standard vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention systems, and earned an Acceptable LATCH connection rating.

2021 Volvo XC60

2020 Volvo XC60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC60 is a well-engineered vehicle. It earns all Good crash test ratings and has Acceptable headlights and LATCH connections. The SUV's standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system is Advanced.

2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge

The XC60 Recharge, a twin of the XC60 except in powertrain, scored exactly the same as its brother in IIHS testing.

2021 Volvo XC90

2020 Volvo XC90 T8

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The Volvo XC90 scored well in IIHS testing, earning all Good crashworthiness scores, but its headlights and LATCH connections earn Acceptable scores. The standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system earned an Advanced rating.

2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge

The Volvo XC90 Recharge, which varies from the XC90 in powertrain alone when it comes to equipment, earned the same IIHS ratings as the XC90.

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