Being safe on the road means you will get uninjured to the port of your destination and will enjoy your vacations. The question if safety is particularly important if you drive with kids.
First of all, be a good role model for your kids. Do not let the bad driving habits that are widely spread among Americans according to Drive for Life be yours:
- Failing to pay attention; "zoning out"
- Driving while drowsy
- Becoming distracted inside the car (by your radio, cell phone, children, etc.)
- Failing to adjust to adverse weather conditions
- Driving aggressively (tailgating, running red lights and stop signs, etc.)
- Making assumptions about other driver's intentions
- Changing lanes without checking blind spots and mirrors
- Driving while upset
- Ignoring essential auto maintenance (brake lights, bald tires, etc.).
If you still have such habits replace them for the following:
1. Plan ahead and allow yourself some extra time to get where you are going. This way, you will be more likely to concentrate on your driving and less likely to drive aggressively.
2. Be relaxed when you are behind the wheel. Listen to your favorite relaxing music, which can calm your nerves and keep you from getting frustrated when you are driving.
3. Drive the posted speed limit. If you tend to drive a few miles above the speed limit, don't. The road is a safer place when everyone is driving at the same speed.
4. Find alternate routes to your destination. Even if it is a little bit out of the way, an alternate route may be less congested and safer.
5. Take advantage of public transportation. You can avoid having to navigate through traffic if you let someone else do the driving.
6. Don't rush to get there on time. Realize that you will be late every once in a while and avoid driving aggressively.
Secondly, everybody in the car should have an appropriate seat and be comfortable. If it is more or clear for adults and teenagers, pay special attention to the kids. They should always have an appropriate car seat. What does it mean?
Make sure you have the right car seat for your child's age and size. As different seats will have different height and weight recommendations, it is important to carefully read the product information provided with your car seat. Different states may have different traffic safety regulations as well, so you may want to look up the laws in your state. The following list of types of car seats provides a general outline for their appropriate usage, but again, keep in mind that the manufacturer's guidelines for each seat can differ even within a particular category of seats:
- Infant Seat - designed for birth to 20-22 pounds, and up to at least one year of age. This is a rear-facing seat..
- Convertible Seat - designed for 20-40 pounds, and from one to four years old. This seat is a rear-facing seat for infants that converts to a forward-facing seat for bigger toddlers (30-35 pounds or more).
- Booster Seat - designed for anywhere within a range of 30-100 pounds, and up to eight years old, depending on the make and whether it's a high-back or no-back variety. This seat is used as a transition to safety belts. It is for children who have outgrown their convertible seat but are not ready for a seat belt only.
- Seat Belt - designed for over 80 pounds, at least 4'9", and eight years or older.
To be sure that your child is seated correctly check:
· Whether the child is sitting all the way back in the car's seat;
· Whether the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat;
· Whether the shoulder belt crosses at the center of the child's shoulder;
· Whether the lap belt fits across the child's hip, not stomach;
· Whether the child is able to remain seated comfortably like this for the entire trip.
Thirdly, never replace rear-facing infant seats or children under 12 in the front seat. If it makes you nervous to not be able to see your baby's face, allow enough time so that you can pull off the road periodically to check on your baby, or consider purchasing a car seat mirror designed specifically to allow you to see the baby by looking in your rear-view mirror.
In addition, if there is an airbag in the front, do not put a child under age 12 in the front seat. In a crash, children are safer the farther they are from the point of impact, which is commonly the front of the car.
Moreover, never leave your kids alone in the car. Running into the store for just a second does not give you the right to leave your kids unattended.
Finally, make sure your children know that your attention must be on the road and not on them. Bring along some soft toys to keep them occupied.