A Note on Car Safety

 by HTEA 3rd Grade Teacher, Mrs. Marna Novak

My 8 year old daughter Briegan and I were involved in a head-on collision in September.  I first want to thank everyone for your prayers and support.  We feel so blessed to be a part of the HTEA family and can’t thank you enough.  I feel a connection with so many families here and would like to share what I learned from this experience.

I have been a teacher for 15 years and have done my share of car lines, but I will think differently now as I put a student in the car. I will pray a little extra for our students who are no longer in booster or car seats but should be due to their small size or age. Thank God we still have our daughter in a booster seat.  Although she did break her arm right under her shoulder, had she not been in the booster seat it could have been much worse.  After the accident, we thought how lucky we were that she didn’t hit her head.  We realized that the side air curtain bag came down just far enough to protect her head.  We measured the booster seat with a ruler and noticed it raised her up about 5 inches. We realized that 5 inches above her fracture is the side of her head. I really believe her booster seat protected her head and may have even saved her life.

Additionally, research shows children age 12 and under riding in the front seat are at higher risk of serious injury or even death. I understand why children want to sit in the front….they don’t think it’s cool any more to sit in the back and they are not babies anymore. From the impact of the accident, I have a broken clavicle and sternum. An airbag or seatbelt injury could have been much worse for a 5th or 6th grader sitting in the front seat.

We think something like this will never happen to us, but it can. I’ve never had a speeding ticket nor have I been in an accident. I am a cautious and defensive driver, and I was only 15 minutes from my home.  We can be doing everything correctly when driving, but we still can’t control the actions of the other drivers around us.  We can only protect ourselves and our children as best we can.

Please share our story and these online statistics:


  • Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented.
  • Placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.
  • Booster seats reduce the risk for serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 years
  • Age 5 up to at least Age 9 – Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (by reaching the upper height and weight limits of their seat), they should ride in belt positioning booster seats. Remember to keep children in the back seat for the best possible protection.
  • All children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat. Children should never be seated directly in front of an airbag.  Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat.
  • Proper seat belt fit – Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (not the neck). The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall

2 thoughts on “A Note on Car Safety”

  1. Thank you, Marna. I am so glad you and Briegan are getting better. Thank you for your reminders. I am definately going to make some changes.
    Love you.

  2. Great message and so sorry you and Briegan had to experience this. I will be much firmer when my 8 year old wants to ride in the front seat.

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