Here are important tips for keeping your child safe when they travel in something other than a car or truck.
Riding in a school bus
- Many school buses do not have seatbelts. However, they are designed to protect children by using “passive protection”. High seat backs create a cushioned compartment to contain the passengers if the bus stops suddenly or is involved in a collision, particularly in a front- or rear-end crash. The high seat back absorbs the impact of a child who is thrown forward or backward.
- Children are rarely injured while riding in a school bus in Canada. Children are at much higher risk of being struck by a car before they get on a school bus or after they get off a school bus than they are as a passenger.
- Transport Canada recognizes that, when used and installed properly, seatbelts can offer an additional layer of safety on school buses. There are many safety factors to consider, such as ensuring all seatbelts are adjusted properly, ensuring children are wearing their seatbelts correctly at all times, and having procedures in place to unfasten all seatbelts if an emergency exit is needed.
- For infants, toddlers and preschoolers on school buses, Transport Canada recommends that they be properly restrained in the right car seat for their height and weight. The school bus must have lower anchorage systems in place and tether straps for those car seats that require them. School buses manufactured after March 2007 will have a minimum number of these anchorage systems available.
- The Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards permits only 3-point lap and shoulder belts, which need to meet requirements similar to seat belts in other vehicles. As of September 1, 2020, a school bus equipped with seat belts must meet the technical requirements for installation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations and cannot be equipped with lap belts only.
Riding in an airplane
- There are no Canadian laws that require the use of car seats on airplanes. However, Transport Canada recommends that young children ride in a car seat when travelling this way.
- Some airlines allow children under the age of two to ride for free on the airplane. In these cases, the child must ride on the parent’s lap.
- If you wish to use a car seat for your child on a flight, you can call the airline and ask if the model you have will fit the airplane’s seat and if the airline has rules about using children’s car seats.
- Airplane seats do not have tether anchors, so the tether strap of a forward-facing car seat must be stored properly, according to the car seat manual. That way it cannot hit anyone inside the airplane during turbulence.
- Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes because they require a lap and shoulder belt and airplane seats do not have shoulder belts.
Riding in a taxi
- Currently in Canada, there are no requirements for taxi companies to supply car seats for child passengers and very few companies offer them.
- It is not against the law for children to ride in a taxi without a car seat but it can pose a problem for parents who wish to protect their child while travelling this way. Currently the options are very limited.
Riding through ride-share
- Ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, must follow car seat laws and regulations.
- However, keep in mind that the ride-share you request may not provide a car seat. If you are travelling with a child who needs a car seat, let the driver know when you make the request, or bring your own. If they do not have one available, they may cancel the ride.
Riding in a motor home
- The only safe place for your child travelling in a motor home is in the front, forward-facing passenger seat, next to the driver, assuming that it has the anchor for the tether strap (if required). If this seat has active air bags, they must be turned off. Air bags are designed to protect larger passengers but can seriously hurt a child.
- Passenger seats located behind the driver are usually not secured to the motor home in the same manner as the driver’s and front passenger’s seat. In the event of a collision, these seats can become dislodged more easily. Parents can ask the motor home dealership for more information on passenger seats. In addition, many motor homes have side-facing seats. Children’s car seats are designed specifically to protect children either rear-facing or forward-facing and cannot be placed in seats that face sideways.
- If there are not enough forward-facing seats to accommodate the number of children properly, they cannot ride in a motor home. Experts agree that it is better to follow behind a motor home in a vehicle with the children in their appropriate car seats, in the back seat of the vehicle. Contact Transport Canada for more information.
- In addition, motor homes have objects and furniture that can become dangerous projectiles in the event of a sudden stop or collision. This should be a factor when considering travelling in a motor home.