Vehicles are wonderful conveniences for family life, but there are safety risks. The good news is – with advances in technology and automotive accessories – safety is a priority designed into modern vehicles. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe whether it’s driving to/from school, soccer practice, or playdates with friends.
Stay Calm, Carry On – Tips for Parents
There are several habits that parents can take to help themselves and keep their kids safe.
- Take the time to prepare for travel to school or sports: Get your kids to gather their belongings well before you need to depart. If at home, turn off the television and mobile devices and make sure your kids lay eyeballs on their backpacks, books, lunch, sports gear, and whatever else they need before departure. Remember, a bit of quiet time is good for everyone’s sanity.
- Buckle up: Every year about 15,000 lives are saved by wearing a seat belt and on average, 47% of people who died in car accidents were not wearing one. You are a role model for your child so be sure to fasten your seatbelt and ensure all passengers have buckled theirs as well. If you have a child under eight years old, that child must be secured in a properly installed car seat or booster seat. State laws vary, but in many states the law requires children under the age of eight to ride in a car seat or booster seat. However, a child’s height and age dictate when they can safely be secured into a regular seat belt.
- Designate a spot for your kids to wait for you: This area should be outside the vehicles, away from the rear to avoid backup accidents. You need line-of-sight with your kids around cars.
- Don’t text or look at your children when driving: Your parent eyes must always be on the road. Get used to conversing without making eye contact. If you can’t turn off your phone when driving, use a hands-free option. This is common in the newer vehicles and older vehicles you can add it in as an aftermarket accessory. Remember – your kids are watching – you are the example. If you have bad driving habits, so will they.
- The back seat is safer: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children younger than the age of 13 be restrained in the back seat of vehicles for the best protection.
- Carpooling is a convenience but be sure the other drivers are reliable: Teach your kids never to get into a vehicle with a driver who appears impaired or angry. Check in with your kids to ensure they feel safe and secure in someone else’s care while driving. And if the answer is no – listen.
- Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition: Regular maintenance, such as oil changes, checking coolant levels, battery power levels and checking tire pressure are essential. Don’t ignore warning lights which monitor the advanced computer components in modern vehicles. Also, carry essential emergency supplies such as jumper cables, a simple tool kit and emergency flares.
- A few more thoughts: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle – this can be deadly in hot weather. Secure loose items that could become a projectile in an accident (including pets).