Driving is an immense responsibility, and driving with a baby or small children on board is an even bigger responsibility. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true safety tips you can employ to help keep your small children safe every time you head out on the road. When you make driving safely your top priority, you help protect your children, which means that incorporating these safety techniques into your routine can provide you with the increased peace-of-mind that every parent is looking for.
Make Sure You Are Using the Right Car Seat
Until they reach at least the age of one, children should be in rear-facing car seats. Generally, the longer your child stays in a rear-facing car seat, the better. This configuration helps to protect your baby’s head and neck in the event that a crash ensues, and it can significantly decrease the risk that the crash will be fatal. All of the following should apply to your baby’s car seat:
The car seat should have a carrier handle and be rear-facing only (for your child's first car seat).
The car seat should meet all NHTSA standards and should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions in the back seat. It is important to recognize, however, that not every car seat works in every vehicle.
Your child should be properly strapped into the car seat – every time.
The car seat should be registered with the manufacturer (in case there is a recall).
Once your baby outgrows his or her initial car seat, you can move on to a convertible car seat that you continue to face toward the rear.
Turn Off Your Phone
Engaging with your phone while behind the wheel is less than ideal, and if you have a baby on board, you need to give the practice a hard pass. Having a baby in the back is distraction enough, which makes putting your phone completely away while you are driving a far safer option.
You remember learning to drive defensively in driver’s ed, but if you do not make this your regular practice, it is time to start. Defensive driving means being prepared to react to whatever it is that other drivers do. In other words, you should expect the unexpected and be prepared to react safely.
Avoid Drowsy Driving
New parents are exhausted much of the time, and there is little you can do to alter this fact. You should not, however, get behind the wheel when you are too tired to drive safely. If you and your child’s other parent stagger your sleeping schedules and take turns driving, you will be better prepared to avoid dangerously drowsy driving.