Car Safety Tools and Apps for Parents

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Table of contents

Babies, kids, and cars

As a parent, you never stop caring about your children or wanting the best for them. Whether it’s your newborn who is fully dependent on you, or your oldest reaching the age of independence, it’s your job to keep them safe. Sometimes, that is easier said than done. 

Keeping your children safe can be especially overwhelming for new parents, but fortunately, we have gathered an abundance of tips and tricks that can help — primarily concerning proper car safety.

When you are on the road and away from home, you are more vulnerable to potential risks and hazards, so it’s prudent that you do everything to protect your family from potential threats. Being prepared for a possible vehicle emergency can not only protect your family’s safety, but it can also safeguard your vehicle — potentially even lowering your car insurance premium. Let’s look at the current numbers for accidents in the U.S.

Fast Facts

  • More than 1.3 million people around the world die each year from car accidents. That’s an average of 3,287 deaths each day. (SaferAmerica)
  • In 2017, about 35% of U.S. passengers aged 12 years old and younger died as a result of no seatbelt, and more 116,000 children were injured. (NHTSA)
  • As of 2018, there have been more than 50 million global injuries from road traffic crashes. (World Health Organization)
  • Injuries from a motor vehicle is a leading cause of death for U.S. children, but sadly, many of these deaths are preventable. (The New England Journal of Medicine)
  • Heatstroke is a leading cause for non-crash-related deaths among children in the U.S. (NHTSA)
  • Children ages five and younger are at the highest risk of backover accidents resulting in injury or death. (KidsAndCars.org)

Safety concerns to keep in mind

Small children do not have the same physical resilience that adult bodies have to keep them safe from car crashes. Young children can be at risk of dangers that don’t necessarily apply to adults, such as an ill-fitting car seat or being left behind in a hot car.

Using the right car seat

Overall, child fatalities from car accidents are down since the early 2000s, partly because of car seats. However, it is estimated that three children lose their lives each day on America’s roads. Of children killed in 2017, 37% were unrestrained.

That statistic can change with a good car seat. Says the NHTSA, “Child safety seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (under one year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars.” 

These percentages are clear; it is crucial that you find the right car seat to ensure your child’s safety. To help, NHTSA even has a search and comparison tool to help you find the right car seat for your child’s age and specific measurements.

Children and hot cars

2018 was the deadliest year on record within the last two decades for vehicular heatstroke. Since 1998, nearly 875 children have died from heatstroke while abandoned in a vehicle, with almost one-quarter of deaths happening while the parent is at work. Not all children are forgotten or abandoned. Over 26% of children were able to gain access to the vehicle and then unable to exit safely.

Many of these deaths are easily preventable, but in such a busy world full of constant distraction and worry, it is all too easy for children to slip away and find trouble that turns deadly.  

To avoid a preventable death, The National Safety Council recommends sticking to a safe routine and placing possessions in the backseat, so you are forced to look in the back to retrieve a purse, a briefcase or even a set of work or house keys. The NSC can also help reinforce good habits through its free training course. Keeping your vehicle locked during unuse to prevent access by unattended children is also a good precaution.

Emergency unpreparedness

Many accidents can be far less severe, or even avoidable, when you are equipped with the right tools to protect yourself. Parents and caregivers should place a heavy emphasis on emergency preparedness, which includes stocking your car with must-haves to keep you safe.

Safety tools for parents 

Child car safety apps

In today’s busy world, it can be all too easy to momentarily forget about a child sleeping quietly in the back seat. Too many children are lost each year, not from intention or neglect, but because of a momentary lapse in an otherwise regimented schedule. It can happen to anyone, and it happens each year to good parents whose temporary distraction cost them their children’s lives.

Thankfully, there are many digital tools and apps you can use to get a little extra help when you need it most.

Child care safety apps and digital tools

NameURLWho It’s Best ForDescriptionAvailable PlatformsPrice
Kars4Kidshttps://www.kars4kids.org/safety-app/Busy parentsYou will receive an alert every time you leave your car, so you never forget to check the backseat for your child.Google PlayFree
Waze (Child Reminder Feature)https://www.waze.com/apps Busy parents, commuters, existing Waze usersWhen you arrive at your destination, Waze will automatically send a reminder for you to check for children or pets. Apple, Android, Google PlayFree
Backseat Apphttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-backseat/id1377036584 All driversNot only does this remind you to check the backseat, but it also sends a reminder if it catches you speeding.Apple, Android$14.99/year
Car Seat Check Formhttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.nsc.checkform&hl=en_USCertified Child Passenger Safety Technicians
This app employs a national database to streamline car seat check data for CPS organizations.Apple, Android, KindleFree
Uppababy Virtual Car Seat Checkhttps://uppababy.com/carseatcheck/ Customers of UPPAbaby car seats and strollersChild Passenger Safety Technicians at UPPAbaby will offer one-on-one, complimentary support to ensure proper setup and installation of all your UPPAbaby products.AppleFree
Clek Virtual Car Seat Checkhttps://clekinc.com/virtual-car-seat-checks/ Customers of Clek car seats and strollersFor more in-depth support, Clek offers virtual troubleshooting and installation support in a 15-minute consultation with a Clek child safety expert.OnlineFree

Apps that can help in a vehicle emergency

Apps are also available that can help in a vehicle emergency. Being involved in an accident is stressful and complex on its own. When you have small children, the situation is even more challenging.

That is where these apps and tools provide an additional layer of relief in an emergency.

Emergency apps

NameURLWho It’s Best ForDescriptionAvailable PlatformsPrice
ICE Medical Standardhttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/ice-medical-standard/id412786820EveryoneRated “The World’s #1 Emergency Medical Contact Information Application,” this displays your emergency information so responders can find it that much faster.Apple, AndroidFree; in-app purchases available
ICE Auto Insurance Standardhttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/ice-auto-insurance-standard/id531400292DriversSimilar to the Medical Standard, this app focuses on the details of your vehicle, such as your VIN, registration and insurance information to help in an accident.Apple$0.99
First Aid: American Red Crosshttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/first-aid-american-red-cross/id529160691 EveryoneThe American Red Cross provides this app as a free emergency resource with safety and disaster preparedness tips in case you’re ever stranded on the road. Apple, AndroidFree
AAA Apphttps://apps.apple.com/us/app/aaa-mobile/id310730297 AAA customersAAA’s complimentary app gives you immediate access to  roadside assistance, in addition to its TripTik® Travel Planner and a digital policyholder.Apple, AndroidFree
Urgent.lyhttps://www.geturgently.com/ Anyone without emergency roadside assistanceUsing flat rates and an optional auto accident-detection feature, Urgent.ly will automatically connect you with a vetted, licensed provider when you need help on the road.Apple, AndroidFree to download; pay per use
Honkhttps://www.honkforhelp.com/ Anyone without emergency roadside assistanceLike Urgent.ly, Honk dispatches emergency help using a network of local tow trucks who can help with everything from a flat tire to lockouts and towing.Apple, AndroidFree to download; pay per use

Other apps to help you drive safely

You don’t only have to use these tools when there is an emergency. There are many apps that are designed to help you prevent a crisis in the first place, whether it is emergency roadside assistance for those flats, hands-free texting tools or even tracking devices for your new teen driver.

Here are some of our favorites.

Other apps to help you drive safely

NameURLWho It’s Best ForDescriptionAvailable PlatformsPrice
Drive Safe.lyhttp://www.drivesafe.ly/ All driversTo reduce distracted driving, use this app for hands-free texting and calling with text-to-speech capabilities and even a fun Celebrity Voice Changer.Android, BlackberryFree; $3.99/month for Pro
Lifesaverhttps://lifesaver-app.com/ All driversAnother app dedicated to reducing distracted driving, with a lock screen while you are driving that allows for navigation access but blocks the ability to text or type.Apple, AndroidFree; in-app purchases available
TrueMotionhttps://gotruemotion.com/safe-driving-apps/All driversTrueMotion is the perfect solution for nervous parents with teen drivers on the road, giving you real-time tracking and roadside assistance, in addition to a driver report card.Apple, AndroidFree
Safe2Savehttps://safe2save.org/ All driversSafe2Save gives you a chance to earn extra money each month, tracking your distracted driving habits and giving you special rewards when you drive safely.Apple, AndroidFree

Car emergency preparedness musts with kids

You never know what can happen on the road, and the stakes are that much higher when you have a child. If you find yourself stranded, there are some things that will make all the difference in keeping you and your little ones safe.

Consider including the following in your basic car emergency kit.

Basic Car Emergency Tools

  • Seatbelt cutter and window hammer combination

If you become trapped, a seatbelt cutter and window hammer can help you break free in a hurry. Check out portable keychain options for extra convenience.

  • Backup phone battery and prepaid phone

Help can be only a phone call away if you have the battery to support it, so be sure to carry an extra charged battery for your phone, maybe including a prepaid phone — just in case.

  • Written emergency numbers

In case you find yourself without your phone, having your emergency information written down for easy access can be helpful since memorizing numbers is a fairly obsolete practice these days.

  • State map

Digital maps can fail in a storm, especially when there are massive power outages or loss of cell signal in remote areas, so a state map can help you find your way.

  • Pen and paper

You never know when you need to jot something down, whether it’s someone’s license plate or insurance information, so always keep paper and pen handy in case your phone isn’t accessible for this purpose. 

  • Paper towels

Paper towels are a parent’s best friend, but they are also a vital part of your emergency repair kit in case you need a cleanup source.

Car Maintenance Essentials

  • Jumper cables

Today there are portable options like a lithium-ion battery with jumper cables, but even a standard pair of cables is an absolute essential. 

  • Simple tool kit

All-in-one tool kits are a great addition for quick fixes like loose screws or for prying purposes.

  • Flares/reflectors/reflective vest

In the darkness of night, you may not be so easily visible on the road, so keep flares, reflectors and reflective vests on-hand so surrounding traffic can see you in case you need to exit the vehicle.

  • Car supplies

Sometimes, your car can be unexpectedly low on washer fluid and such, so make sure you have what you need on hand to top off essential fluids. 

  • A gallon of coolant
  • A quart or more of motor oil
  • Fix-a-flat/tire inflator
  • Washer fluid
  • Ice scraper

This is especially crucial if you live in northern states that experience harsh winters full of snow and ice.

Additional Emergency Supplies Parents Need

All of these things are important to the average driver, but as a parent of small children, these extra precautions can provide additional safeguards in case of an emergency. 

  • Emergency information

In case you become separated from your children, you should keep emergency information on hand that includes vital information, such as their medications and allergies.

  • First-aid kit

From a scraped knee to more serious injuries, a first-aid kit always comes in handy.

  • Blanket/space blanket

If you become stranded in the elements, a blanket can provide you with life-saving warmth. 

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

A flashlight and extra batteries can be a huge help if you become stranded or lose something in the dark.

  • Wet wipes and paper towels

From cleaning up a mess to making car repairs, wet wipes and paper towels can help with cleanup and prevent infection or spread of bacteria.

  • Non-perishable snacks

Non-perishables like granola bars can satisfy hunger if you are stranded for a long period of time.

  • Bottled water

Water is a basic, primary need to survive, so be sure to keep several bottles of water in your kit in case you’re stuck without a water source.

  • Pepper spray/self-defense tool

Pepper spray and other self-defense tools will help you fend off human or animal intruders until you can find help. 

  • Water-resistant walking shoes

If you have to leave your vehicle because of snow or flooding, water-resistant shoes for all members of the family could provide an added layer of protection.

  • Hand warmers 

In case you are stranded in ice or snow, hand warmers can keep your temperature up while you are waiting for help. This is particularly smart if you are traveling with young children, who have a harder time staying warm in extreme temperatures.

Final thoughts

Part of being a parent is doing your best to expect the unexpected. That extends not just to your home life, but also to your vehicle. As parents, a large portion of your time is often spent on the road, exposing you and your family to risk on a regular basis.

Thankfully, many precautions can be taken to protect your little ones from harm on the road. The Digital Age has only made it easier, delivering invaluable tools and resources that lend a supportive hand when you need it most. A little preparation can go a long way for parents in case of an emergency, whether it’s a digital insurance ID card or an extra flashlight.