A lot goes into making sure your vehicle is safe to drive on the road. You should get regular oil changes, clean your windshield, and make sure your tires are full of air, but if you’re traveling with little ones in the back, you’ve got even more to do.
You can worry less about buckling your children in the back seat when you follow the tips on this list.
Avoid Dangerous Drivers on the Road
Most parents drive more cautiously than non-parents. It makes sense that parents want to slow down and keep their children safe in the back seat! Unfortunately, you can’t control how other people drive on the road.
Avoiding dangerous drivers on the road means giving yourself more space between you and erratic drivers. In addition, passing poor drivers on the interstate safely and quickly can keep everyone in your car safer.
It’s also a good idea to drive with an offensive state of mind. For example, even if you don’t have a stop sign, it’s a good idea to approach every intersection with caution. Not everyone is paying attention to the road like you are!
Use the Right Car Seat
It’s absolutely vital that you use the right car seat for your child. That includes using the proper car seat for your baby and toddler, but to the surprise of many parents, it means using a car seat or a booster seat for older children too.
Children under the age of 13 should sit in the back seat, no matter how much they may want to sit in the front. Air bags can be extremely dangerous to young children.
Fortunately, they won’t have to use a booster seat at 13. Boosters should be used underneath children who are between four and 8 years old until they reach a height of 4 ft. 9 in. tall.
It also means installing the car seat correctly and buying a brand new seat. You don’t want to find out the seat you picked up for a steal has already been in an accident, compromising its ability to protect your child.
Set Them up for the Ride Before You Get Behind the Wheel
Children can be demanding. Their demands don’t stop just because you’re behind the wheel! Unfortunately, meeting their demands when you’re driving down the road can cause an accident.
Make sure your kids are set up and ready to go before you hit the road. That might mean doing things like:
- Double checking to make sure they are comfortable
- Giving them their favorite toy or stuffed animal
- Starting a movie before you hit the road
- Putting a drink in their cup holder
Be cautious giving snacks in the car. You don’t want your child to choke while you’re driving. Only give snacks that don’t pose a choking hazard to your child, like applesauce.
Never Leave Your Kids Alone in the Car
You know the dangers of forgetting your child in the backseat of the car on a hot day, but you shouldn’t leave your child unattended no matter what the weather or circumstances. You would never be able to forgive yourself if you accidentally locked your child in the car, or if they started choking while you’re in the gas station.
The keyword is “unattended.” If you’re pumping gas, putting air in the tires, or have to return the grocery cart a few parking spaces away, you can leave your child be.
Focus on the Road
It’s obvious that you should focus on the road when you’re behind the wheel. The trouble is, it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, and before you know it, you’re doing things while you’re driving that you shouldn’t.
Don’t engage in distracted driving, especially if you have little ones in the back seat. That means avoiding things like:
- Talking on the phone
- Changing your destination on GPS
- Changing your Spotify playlist
- Leaning into the back seat to reach something
It also means avoiding important interactions with your children when you’re driving. Reprimanding them from the front seat can put you all in danger. Instead, pull over to discuss their transgression, as well as proper behavior in the car.
Being safe on the road is important no matter what your age, but it’s especially important for parents with young children in the back seat. Make sure they’re safe with these tips, and you’ll feel more at ease every time you get behind the wheel of your car.