Of the 36,096 traffic fatalities in 2019 in the US, approximately 3% were children aged 14 and younger. In the same year, around 183,000 children were injured on the road, which is a somber wake-up call to the need to exercise greater road safety precautions, especially when you are on long road trips involving various hours on highways and potentially dangerous roads. Safety is a concept that encompasses a wide array of considerations. Read on to discover essential strategies to adopt so that your little ones enjoy a fun yet safe ride until you get to your chosen destination.
Investing in Quality Child Safety Seats
Parents are often advised to avoid spending on brand items or to opt for second-hand equipment (since children grow out of these items so fast). However, car seats are one thing you should never scrimp on or obtain secondhand—since you don’t know if they have been involved in an accident and are compromised from a safety standpoint. Child seats have been found to reduce fatal injuries by 71% for infants under one year old and by 45% for toddlers (aged one to four) in passenger cars. Statistics are also good for those traveling in light trucks. Therefore, consider a highly rated car seat one of the best investments you can make during a road trip.
Make Sure Kids Are Buckled Up
Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury in children aged five and above by 54% and it lowers their risk of moderate-to-serious injury by a similar percentage. Before you leave on your road trip, visually inspect your seatbelts. The fabric should be intact (not cut or frayed), as if its structure is compromised, it could tear if the car is impacted. The metallic component of the buckle should also be structurally perfect, with no chips. It should be easy to buckle down and remove. If it doesn’t, take it to the mechanic for replacement. The spool component, meanwhile, should not be so loose that you can lean forward without it offering any resistance. If it is too large or too tight, it can be replaced. Finally, test if the seatbelt’s locking mechanism works on all seat belts.
Kids can be a big distraction while you’re driving, especially if you have more than one. Anyone with a large family knows it can get a little chaotic when one child is asking for a snack, another is crying, and yet another is teasing a sibling. This can cause you to lean back to look at your kids or give them the items they are asking for. If you have an accident, you could be at fault for distracted driving. An expert personal injury lawyer will tell you that distracted driving takes over three thousand lives on the road every year. Staying focused doesn’t just mean avoiding texting or fiddling with the stereo. It also involves ensuring that everyone in the car knows that the road needs to be taken seriously. Before you leave your home, meet with your children and inform them of how important it is for them to cooperate so you can drive safely. Older children can help entertain and help younger ones. Having a co-pilot and entrusting them with these duties will also help children understand that the driver’s job is to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Stop Frequently and Encourage Activity
It is recommended that drivers stop for 15 minutes or so after every two hours of driving and that you drive for less than eight hours straight on a given day. Make sure that your stops are not only to have a coffee or a meal. Plan your route beforehand, looking for parks, beaches, woods, or other green or blue spaces where your kids can play actively, taking part in activities like running and jumping. Being in a green space for just 10 minutes has been found to have a powerful stress-busting effect. Moreover, being somewhere where kids can enjoy free play will most likely tire them out so they don’t feel so restless in the car.
Road safety is always important but if you are taking a road trip, you need to be extra sure that your car is ready. In addition to taking your car for a maintenance checkup, make sure your kids’ car seats are up to scratch and inspect your seatbelts. Make sure distractions are reduced to practically zero in the car and stop frequently so your kids can de-stress and enjoy unstructured play in a natural spot.