Car safety is so important. Cars are inherently dangerous – follow these 10 tips to be safer in them!
By Danielle, Contributing writer
Though it’s the last thing we want to think about, cars are truly the most dangerous things Americans do every day. Nearly 1.3 million die internationally in road crashes per year. Luckily, we can combat that by driving safe – such as buckling our babes into the right car seat and being prepared for emergencies.
10 Ways to Be Safer in the Car
1. Limit Distractions.
Your only goal in the car is to get from place A to B safely. So often as moms, we want to be sure that our children also have an enjoyable car ride. Though that’s the ideal, we don’t want to let their comfort risk their safety. Limit your distractions – your phone, mail, papers, music, etc. when driving. Get your car ready before leaving, giving yourself an extra 5-10 minutes every time you drive somewhere. Turn on your heat or air, music, adjust your chair and mirrors before you take your car out of park.
Let’s face it. Sometimes the distraction is your child. Set boundaries and stick to them. Have a car “fun pack” ready for your child to keep themselves busy. Have water and a snack bag available. From there, your eyes are on the road and not the child.
2. Put the phone away.
One in four accidents in the U.S. is blamed on cell phones. No matter how much you want to, put your phone down. Get a GPS system for your car if there isn’t already one installed. If you need to, put the phone safely in the console or in the pocket behind your seat. Sync your phone up to the car if you have that feature. All phone calls and messages can wait until you arrive at your destination safely.
3. Get the right car seat.
This cannot be overstated. You need the right car seat. Car seat recommendations change often. They also expire, so don’t use the same car seat from one child to the next unless it has not yet expired and has not been in any type of accident.
4. Keep it clean and simple.
In an accident, more stuff means more things flying around and hitting your child’s body. Limit how much you put in your car, and keep your emergency and everyday supplies locked into soft bags or containers.
5. Stock away emergency supplies.
This means a first aid kit, emergency food and water, flashlight, flares, and a glass breaker/seat belt cutter. If you are on a busy street, do not get out of the car. You can also buy car emergency kits with the breakdown essentials.
6. Make sure emergency information is posted and visible.
I haven’t seen another mom do this, but I have always thought this should be standard. Post your child’s information, your information, an emergency contact [that likely won’t be in the car], blood type, insurance, any specific health restrictions [such as no biologics/vaccines or allergies] ON the car seat. I write this up and use packaging tape to secure it fully to the car seat. In the case that I am not responsive, I want my child’s information, a contact who I trust to make decisions for us, and my medical wishes [like no vaccines!] available to the emergency personnel right away.
7. Use a mirror for rear-facing children.
Your biggest concern with rear-facing children is choking without your knowledge. Avoid that frightening situation and install a mirror on the headrest facing your rear-facing child.
8. Coats off!
Many believe that they should keep their child’s coat on in the car seat. Wrong. The extra space in the coat will compress during a car accident enough to allow the child to slip out. This goes for anything that is not apart of the manufacturer’s car seat – including strap covers. Opt for a long sleeve shirt, followed by a blanket or even a car seat poncho.
9. Get your car serviced often, and educate yourself on its basic functions.
A well-serviced car is less likely to break down. Get your car serviced on time and learn how to do basic maintenance on your car.
10. Be prepared for the worst.
Do a practice drill with your kids in case of an accident, just like a fire drill. Don’t scare them, but go over your plan in case of emergency. They have likely seen accidents before on the road, and knowing that you, and them, are ready, will make you both feel more confident if the worst does happen.
If you do break down, stay in the car and put a sign in the window asking for help. If you are on a busy street, do not get out of the car.