Once you become a parent, your perception of the entire world changes. What was once a safe object now has the potential to cause harm to your child. From cabinets to board game pieces and everything in between, there is no limit to what previously innocuous items hold a newfound threat of danger to your child.
That danger is multiplied tenfold when vehicles come into play. Safety on the road is always important, but when children are in your vehicle, the dire nature of caution and proactive planning skyrockets. Luckily, there are a few easy steps parents and guardians can take to minimize risk and ensure their little loved ones remain far from harm’s way.
- Choose the Appropriate Type of Car Seat
When it comes to certain aspects of vehicle travel with children on board, the law dictates precisely what must and cannot happen.
As any knowledgeable professional will tell you–whether a car accident lawyer in Tampa or a local Dallas police officer–the chance of child fatality in an accident increases drastically when the correct type of car seat is not used. As a child grows, the type of seating they are legally required to use while in a vehicle evolves.
The requirements also differ from state to state, but generally depend on a child’s height, weight, or age. In most states, there are penalties and fines when drivers do not comply with the relevant child safety rules. So, in order to save yourself some money and protect your child in the best possible way, make sure you’re utilizing the correct type of car seat.
- Never Leave Children Alone Inside a Vehicle
Even if you just need to run a quick errand, it is rarely ever permissible to leave a child unattended inside a vehicle. Children can suffer from heatstroke when they remain in a hot vehicle for too long, and the results can be fatal.
A good way to remind yourself that a child is in the backseat is to leave a toy in the front seat that you will always see, or by keeping your purse or phone in the backseat area. These small habits can help ensure a child is never forgotten in a hot vehicle.
- Thoroughly Prepare for Long Trips
When it comes to road trips with the family, the key to highway success is hidden in the details.
Set yourself up for a smooth ride by supplying the kids with various forms of entertainment during the drive. A portable DVD player, handheld games, books, and even a mental arsenal of road trip games–like the classic Alphabet Game–are all great ways to keep your kids occupied and happy.
Have snacks easily accessible and designate a bag for trash that the kids can reach. Establishing ways to keep the kids happy and the vehicle tidy will help limit distractions, allowing the driver to focus their full attention on the road.
Additionally, it’s a great idea to plan stops for long drives ahead of time. Check out a map and select picnic stops or interesting sights along the way. This gives everyone a chance to take a break and re-energize, so the ride can be more pleasant and the people driving can remain alert. If possible, switch drivers at these stops everyone gets a chance to rest.
- Limit Phone Use to Emergencies
Phones are a handy tool to use on trips. The modern GPS systems on smartphones rival any Garmin or TomTom, and playing music or audiobooks can help drivers stay awake and alert on the road during long drives.
But phones can also become a huge distraction for drivers. If you do need to make a call, have a passenger dial the number for you to avoid taking your eyes off the road. And never–under any circumstances–attempt to respond to a text message while you are driving. This is a risky choice anyways, but when you have a child in your vehicle it is not only your life you are choosing to endanger.