As a parent, you probably know that accomplishing everyday tasks is a little bit more challenging when children are in the picture.
A simple trip to the grocery store or even taking a shower can be a feat when your little ones are around. And so it goes with driving…
Although you may have a good decade or more of driving experience under your belt, you quickly learn that operating a vehicle with your kids in the backseat is a whole other ballgame. Not only is it more difficult to stay focused, but the need to drive safely is even greater because you hold their lives as well as your own in your hands.
So, before you jump in the car with your children, take a few minutes to review these safety rules that will help keep everyone safe.
- Discuss Driving Safety Rules with Kids
As soon as you can begin teaching your children safety rules of the house, you should also introduce them for the car. It will go a long way in helping you drive safely if they understand your expectations for their behavior. Here are a few good guidelines:
- Use inside voices – no screaming or shouting unless there is a real emergency.
- No physical roughhousing, throwing things, getting out of the seat or big movements.
- Learn to wait for your attention – you may want to have a fun code word that reminds them that you’re focused on driving and cannot help them until you stop.
- Observe Car Seat Laws to the Letter
Very specific car seat laws have been put in place for a reason. In-depth research has been done to tell us the type of equipment that is most effective for children at various ages and weights, so take advantage of it. It’s important to note that each state has slightly different child passenger safety laws, so you must look at the requirements of your state to be sure you’re in compliance with the law.
The majority of states require infants to be in rear-facing infant seats, toddlers to be in forward-facing child safety seats, and older children to sit in booster seats until they reach a size where they can safety use the adult safety belt on its own. When in doubt, visit a child car seat inspection station near you.
- Keep Your Eyes & Focus on the Road
A big hurdle for parents to get over is realizing that the most important thing happening in the car at any given moment is driving. Barring a medical emergency, there is nothing that trumps your safe operation of the vehicle. While it may be difficult to hear your baby crying or your toddler wailing about dropping their toy, you must resist turning around or trying to grab something in the back seat while you’re behind the wheel.
- Take Time to Prepare
One of the very best ways to avoid issues that distract you from driving is to prepare before you get on the road. That means making sure that your children have whatever they’ll need in reach before you start moving: toys, games, snacks, drinks, etc. You may want to try some of these clever hacks to help ensure a worry-free ride. One thing to avoid, however, is giving kids snacks that could result in choking or toys that might distract you from driving.
- Pull Over
If the crying or tantrum or sibling tiff gets to the point that it’s compromising safety in any way, pull over and deal with the issue. And that doesn’t mean wait until you get to a red light – while the car is on and in drive, it is not safe to take your attention off the road.
- Ban Phone Use
I’ll spare you the statistics because you surely know by now that using your phone in any capacity while driving is extremely dangerous. Most parents are master multi-taskers, but driving and using your smartphone are two things that should never be done at the same time, no matter what. If it’s hard for you to resist, consider installing an app that disables your phone while the car is moving.
- Model Safe Driving
You’ve probably learned the hard way that your little ones are always watching and listening to you, even when you think they’re not. Keep this in mind as they get older because there’s a good chance they’ll copy your driving habits (good or bad) when it’s their turn to get behind the wheel. That means no road rage, phone use or law breaking.
Most parents agree that kids make life more fun and meaningful… and a lot more challenging as well. Though driving with children in the car can certainly be tough sometimes, following these rules will help keep it safe.