Are We There Yet? Driving with Kids

Most new parents would probably admit that their driving habits changed after having children. The one-time daredevil of the highway has transformed into a doting dad who never pushes the speedometer past a sluggish 65 mph; the lady lead foot who laughed in the faces of cops is now a minivan-loving, law abider who cruises so slow she would try the patience of a turtle.

Kids in the carWell, nobody can be young, careless, and irresponsible forever. Towing around tiny babies, temperamental toddlers, noisy children, and hormonal teens should make every driver re-think his or her habits. After all, no matter how they might complicate matters, these are the passengers we love and treasure most. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children aged two to 14. If you drive with kids, here are some ways to ensure your precious cargo stays safe:

  • Make all children 12 and under ride in the back seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children are not big enough for the front seat until they have entered their teens.
  • Stay focused and never take your eyes off the road. Kids can be the most distracting of passengers. Avoid the temptation to look at or otherwise engage with your child when you should be paying attention to your driving. While you may feel like you aren't paying her enough attention, you're actually doing her a favor by making sure she stays safe.
  • Consider making long car trips with children at night. This way, they are more likely to sleep and will not be distracting to you while you drive.
  • Pack snacks and activities for children to enjoy during car trips. Again, this minimizes the likelihood of distractions, not to mention fights between siblings and the dreaded query, "Are we there yet?"
  • Let little passengers get out and stretch. This is particularly applicable to those who must still ride in car seats. Since little kids' muscles are still developing, it isn't healthy for them to be confined in car seats for too long. Stop for stretch breaks every couple of hours.
  • Remove passenger airbags unless the teen riding in the passenger seat is big enough for one. Airbags were designed to protect adults weighing at least 160 pounds. They can actually do more harm than good if they open up against a small, slender teen.
  • Keep big and/or heavy objects in the trunk, not in the backseat. In the event of an accident, such objects can move or fly around and cause even greater injury. It's best to keep them stowed away where they can't hurt any passengers.
  • Obviously, make sure every child wears a seatbelt at all times!

Questions about driving safety or auto insurance? Call or contact Wilson, Timmons & Wallerstein, Inc. today.

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