By: Mark Connor
While it’s true that every time you start your car and head out onto the road you’re taking a risk, there are things you can do, as a parent, to minimize this risk and make driving safer for you, your children, and everyone else on the road. Here are some essential road safety tips for moms and dads.
Eliminate all distraction temptations from the equation
More than 3,000 people every year are killed on the roads as a result of distracted driving - and it’s not just texting and driving (although this is probably the biggest no-no of them all). Anything done in a car that’s not driving is a potential distraction and endangers the lives of your kids. You can limit these distractions by removing any sort of temptation from the equation. Put your cellphone inside your glove box so you’re not tempted to answer a call. Never eat or apply makeup while driving. One good rule of thumb is that if anything in your car requires your attention - even for just a moment - pull over before you handle it.
Don’t drive aggressively
While driving too cautiously (too slow and too timid) is not a good driving practice, driving aggressively is a much bigger threat to your children and the children of others on the road. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter how skilled you are behind the wheel or how much of a hurry you’re in, there’s no time when it's appropriate to bend the rules of the road.
You may not even know your driving is aggressive, but if you’re rolling through stop signs, speeding up through yellow lights, making slightly risky passing moves, or following closely behind another vehicle - you’re guilty of it. Safety is the paramount concern, but it’s not the only one. Legally, aggressive driving is becoming a bigger focal point of traffic enforcement campaigns. Police around the country are becoming more aware of aggressive driving as a road epidemic and have begun to take proactive measures to combat it.
"Law enforcement officials in many states are getting more aggressive in countering this dangerous behavior by increasing data-driven enforcement, which means stationing more law enforcers in areas where there is a high probability of catching aggressive drivers before something bad happens,” notes DanielRRosen.com.
Know how to properly secure your child
If you get in an accident, proper car seat use, safety belt use, and placement inside the vehicle can be the difference between life and death. While your child’s weight/height is the main determining factor, there are some basic guidelines for how to secure them inside your car. For the most part, children two years and younger should ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Toddlers should ride in front-facing car seat, while younger (school-aged) children require front-facing booster seats. When your child is large enough, they can switch to using the seat belt. Due to safety concerns with airbags, any kid under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat. Check out SafeKids.org’s car seat guide to find out which type of seat is best for your child.
Parents and their children are much less safe on the road when drivers are overconfident of their own skills and overconfident of their car’s ability to protect their passengers in the event of a crash. By taking steps to limit distractions, drive less aggressively, and properly secure your children, you can make traveling as safe as it can possibly be.