Whether you’re taking a road trip with your kids, transporting them and their friends to various extracurricular activities, or just letting them tag along on your weekly errands, being a parent means having kids in your car a lot of the time. Of course, driving safely and keeping your young passengers safe is important to you, but the farther away we get from the driving lessons and tests we took so long ago, the easier it is to forget important defensive driving concepts and take certain aspects of road safety for granted. When you reach the point in your life where going for a drive usually means you’ve got kids in the back seat, it’s time to remind yourself of the key elements of driving defensively and safely so that you can minimize the chance that you’ll ever get into a bad accident. Even if you have a brand new car with up to date safety features, there’s no way to ever make driving 100% risk-free, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce your odds of getting into a bad wreck.
Everybody Must Wear Their Seat Belt!
Before you pull out of a driveway or parking space, do a quick visual check to make sure all your passengers have their seat belts properly fastened. It’s easy to take seat belts for granted, but some kids—and some adults, too—will forget, or not bother, and it’s your responsibility as the driver to make sure your car isn’t going anywhere if everybody isn’t safely buckled in. Shoulder belts must be worn if they’re available, and younger children need to be secured into car seats.
Don’t Drive With Distractions
It almost goes without saying, but the number one rule of safe driving in this day and age is to never use your phone while driving. Drivers who look away from the road to text or use phone apps have caused countless accidents, many of them fatal. There’s never a circumstance when it’s okay to text and drive, but it’s especially important to keep the phone put away when there’s impressionable young people riding in the car with you. Set a good example and put the phone away!
Okay, you’ve got the phone set aside, but remember, there are other driving distractions to cut out as well. Don’t eat, put on makeup, or get too heavily engaged in conversations with passengers while you’re behind the wheel. If kids are getting rowdy in the back, pull over if you need to get them to settle down so you can concentrate properly on driving.
No Heavy Loose Objects
Heavy or sharp objects in the cabin of the vehicle can fly around at high velocity if the car comes to a sudden stop and can cause severe injuries to anyone they strike. Make sure anything you wouldn’t want thrown at your head is secured in a compartment, under a seat, or in the trunk!
Be A Defensive Driver
Finally, be alert, be courteous, follow traffic laws and common sense, and never drive aggressively. Anticipate potential hazards in the road ahead so you have time to react. Show your kids that driving safely is one thing you can never be careless about!