Here are important tips for keeping your child safe when they travel in something other than a car, truck, van or SUV.
Riding in a school bus
- Many school buses do not have seat belts and are instead 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, seat belts can offer an additional layer of safety on school buses. There are many safety factors to consider, such as ensuring all seat belts are adjusted properly, ensuring children are wearing their seat belts correctly at all times and having procedures in place to unfasten all seat belts if an emergency exit is needed.
- Transport Canada recommends that infants, toddlers and preschoolers who weigh less than 18 kg (40 pounds) be properly restrained on school buses in the right car seat or school bus restraint system for their weight and height. In order to use a standard car seat, the school bus must have lower anchorage systems in place and tether anchors for 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 Sept.1, 2020, new school buses 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
- Transport Canada recommends that all infants and young children ride in a car seat when travelling in an airplane. There are no Canadian laws that require the use of a car seat on an airplane; however, specific airlines may have their own policies.
- 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 caregiver’s lap.
- Buckling up a child who is younger than 2 years old requires purchasing a ticket and installing their car seat for them to ride in during flight. All Canadian car seats with a 5-point harness are approved for use in harness mode on aircraft.
- If travelling by air and bringing a car seat, it is best to check in advance with your individual airline to ensure that the car seat will fit. Individual airlines may have restrictions on the size of seat permitted or which seats on the plane may be used with a car seat.
- Your car seat will have aircraft installation instructions that are found in your car seat manual. Aircraft installation instructions may be different from those for your vehicle.
- Booster seats cannot be used on an airplane because they require a lap and shoulder belt and airplane seats do not have shoulder belts.
Riding in a taxi or ride-share vehicle
- Always use an appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt when travelling in a taxi or ride-share vehicle.
- The legal responsibility to ensure child passengers are safely buckled in a taxi or ride-share vehicle varies by province and territory. Caregivers should always use an appropriate car seat or booster seat when travelling in a taxi or ride-share vehicle, even if it is not legally required.
- Currently in Canada, very few taxi and ride-share companies supply car seats and booster seats.
- Be aware that taxi or ride-share drivers may refuse to transport your child without a car seat, even if one is not required by law.
Riding in a motor home
- Travelling in an RV has many risks for children:
- Car seat and booster seat manufacturers usually do not allow installation in a motor home or RV. Motor homes are not classified as passenger vehicles and are therefore not required to meet rear seat belt standards.
- Motor homes have cabinets and bench seating that may break apart during a crash and become projectiles.
- The safest way to travel with children on an RV trip is to choose a non-motorized model you can tow behind or attach to a passenger vehicle. These can be called a fifth-wheel, camper trailer, travel trailer or a truck camper. Children can ride safely buckled in the right car seat or booster seat in the back seat of the passenger vehicle. These camping options are safer alternatives to travelling in an RV.
- When there is no other choice but to use a motor home or RV (Class A, B or C), instead of towing the family vehicle, another adult can drive the vehicle with the children safely secured in their car seats or booster seats.