It’s the age-old dilemma – how to maintain peace and ensure safety with kids in the car. Parenting is not always easy, but these five tips for parenting in the car may make it a bit smoother.
Inspect behind car before getting in and backing up. Many children die needlessly each year because parents forget to check behind the car before they get in and back out of the driveway. The simple precaution is to inspect all around the car – especially the back – before getting in. That’s not all, though. Before backing up, roll down windows to be able to hear children around the vehicle. Back up slowly, sweeping all areas with your eyes and paying special attention to blind spots. Remember, rearview cameras really come in handy, but they’re no substitute for parental vigilance
Ensure proper safety restraints are installed and in use. All children under the age of 12 years old should ride in the back of the car – never in front. Use the appropriate car seat or booster seat for children under the age of four years old. Make sure all children are properly restrained before starting the vehicle and getting underway. As for unused belts, always lock them. This prevents children from getting entangled in unused seat belts. Another good tip is to teach children that seat belts are not toys, so they don't unbuckle themselves in jest.
Bring plenty of age-appropriate distractions. Whether the drive is short or long, be sure to bring along sufficient toys, books, movies, DVDs, or other age-appropriate distractions to keep children occupied en route. For younger kids, parents can keep a travel bag in the front on the floor and distribute the items when needed. For older children, hang the travel bag over the seat back in front of them so they can easily reach the items.
Settle disputes smartly by pulling over. Make that threat a reality! Children are bound to become restless and sometimes get into rather boisterous disputes, with or without hitting and screaming. The only safe way to settle such arguments and confrontations is to pull over to the side of the road – where and when it’s safe – and to take care of the situation. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel until you find a safe spot; it only takes seconds of distracted driving to cause an accident. Then pull over and stop the car before you address your family. Your children will learn that you mean business, and that driving is a serious activity.
Never leave a child unattended in a car, even for a few minutes. Each year 49 children, on average, die from hyperthermia because they’ve been left unattended in a locked car. Sometimes it’s a case of forgetfulness, while other times it’s done deliberately. Temperatures inside a locked car escalate quickly and children’s body temperatures rise faster than an adult’s. Never leave a child alone in a car for any reason. Check the back seat before leaving the vehicle to ensure the child isn’t left by mistake. Another precaution is to keep all car doors locked when the vehicle is parked. This helps ensure kids don’t get in and play and somehow become trapped in the car. If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. And be sure to supervise all children carefully whenever they’re around a vehicle.