Family Car Checklist

Take a safety-essentials checklist when you go car shopping.

There are some things you absolutely must consider when choosing a new car -- such as it having enough seat belts. But there are other, lesser-known safety elements you might want to consider as well. Take this checklist with you when you go shopping for a vehicle and find out if the car you're considering meets your safety requirements.

____ Are there enough seat belts for everyone?

____ Can the vehicle's lap and shoulder belts accommodate children who have outgrown child seats and need booster seats?

____ Is there enough room--preferably in the backseat--to install a child seat correctly?

____ Can your baby's car seat be installed correctly? It's recommended that you try installing it before you purchase or lease the vehicle.

____ If the vehicle has a bench or bucket seat design, will it interfere with child seat installation? (Check slopes, humps, contours, seat splits, and forward-anchored belts.)

____ Do seat belts have locking features (locking or switchable retractor) for child seats?

____ Is the LATCH system available? (Some vehicle manufacturers can provide retrofit tether and lower anchorage kits.)

____ Are adjustable upper belts available?

____ Are built-in child restraint systems available?

____ Is there a head restraint protection for rear seats?

____ Does it have safety door locks (so children cannot open doors from inside vehicle)?

____ Does the driver have override window controls (so children cannot open the windows themselves)?

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration