If you were to ask any parent or guardian of a little one what the most important thing to them was, it would likely be their child’s safety. Yet, we put our children in the most dangerous, helpless position possible nearly every day: the car.
According to personal injury attorneys like JT Legal Group, a person’s odds of being in a fatal car accident in the United States is 1 in 107. That’s a serious number to think about, especially as you load your kids up for an errand or a road trip.
To keep your precious littles safe, make sure to follow these safety tips for driving with children in a vehicle.
1. Start With Safety First
Most of the time, infants and children go into their car seats without a fight. Sometimes, though, it can be a battle between you and that mini human who somehow sprouted supernatural strength (and vocal cords).
When you’re in a hurry or not in the mood to wrestle, it’s tempting to let them get their way and skip the car seat or seat belt. Think about that “1 in 107” statistic we mentioned earlier, and find another way to get your uncooperative child to cooperate.
One more safety feature tip that can help save your sanity: Use the child safety locks. Otherwise, you could be another one of the many adults who finally gets their child secured safely, only to get settled in your seat and find the passenger door wide open. The child safety locks keep curious children from opening the door when the vehicle is moving, as well.
2. Skip the Snacks and Meals
Thinking of bribing your little one with a yummy treat to get them to behave? Be careful about feeding them when you’re driving. It sounds innocent enough, but it brings with it a whole host of dangers.
Choking is a serious concern in children, with more than one child dying every five days in America. Your child might think they’ll die if they don’t get fed right that very instant, and they might even act like they are.
You know better, though, and they can wait until you stop for their next meal. It might mean you have to adjust your plans a little and pull over to a rest stop or a gas station on a long road trip.
If you must give them snacks or meals while you’re driving, stick with things like pudding or yogurt in pouches. Unless you have your attention on them at all times while they eat, never feed a child known choking hazard foods, such as:
- Any meat with bones in it
- Hots dogs or sausage
- Popcorn, chips, or other snacks with hard, sharp edges
- Hard or sticky candy, small snacks like gum, hard candies, lollipops, or even cough drops
- Whole fruits and vegetables, especially grapes and cherries
- Nuts, seeds, and peanut butter
When in doubt, don’t give it to them. In addition to choking, there’s always the potential of an allergic reaction. If your child has never had it before, they could be allergic to the food, and if your eyes aren’t on them, you may not notice a reaction.
3. Be a Good Role Model
Little ones don’t understand a “Do as I say, not as I do” parenting style. They copy the good and bad things you do. Being a positive role model will teach them how to behave in the car.
If you’re calm while putting them in the car seat, they’ll settle down faster. When you’re cut off in traffic or dealing with stress, how you respond affects them, too. Try to remain unruffled rather than give in to road rage, which increases the likelihood of an accident.
Here are a few other simple “good role model” tips you want to instill in your child:
- Don’t drive while distracted (eating, texting, playing with the radio, etc.)
- Keep your hands on the wheel and your feet on the floor
- Use your car safety features, like the seatbelt and turn signal, consistently
- Let other cars over in traffic to show your child what respectful driving looks like
- Follow the rules of the road
- Never leave your child unattended
Following these role model tips creates a calm, distraction-free environment. You can focus on the road and avoid potential hazards that might have caused an accident.
These basic tips, along with a safe environment in the car, might not keep your child happy, but they will go a long way toward keeping them healthy.
At the end of the day, when you’re tucking them into bed after bringing them home without becoming a statistic, that’s what is important.