We all have heard about the dangers of distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, etc., but do we ever stop to consider the dangers involved with driving with kids? Kids are loud, and messy. These two factors can cause distraction – a high-pitched squeal can divert a driver’s attention from the road. So can reaching to catch an airborne ketchup packet. If there are more than one kid in the vehicle, they are nearly guaranteed to start fighting – especially during long road trips. Refereeing while driving is hazardous.
But in all seriousness, children should be aware of their responsibilities when riding in a vehicle in order to help themselves, the driver and other passengers enjoy a safe ride. They should be aware that these responsibilities extend to all car rides, no matter who is at the wheel or how long or short the trip is.
- Of course, the seatbelt must be worn properly at all times. This means it should be fastened before the trip begins and stay on until the car is parked at its destination. During the trip, the child should wear the belt properly. Many times, a kid will tuck the shoulder harness under his or her armpit claiming it is “more comfortable” that way. Not allowed! The belt is far less effective when not worn properly, and in fact could cause greater injury in a crash.
- The place for kids is the back seat. Children less than 13 years of age should always be seated in the back to avoid injuries caused by passenger-side airbag deployment. The airbags are designed to protect a larger person and can cause additional injury to smaller people, which children usually are.
- Keep calm and ride on. Horseplay is not safe in a vehicle. Being loud and moving around a lot is distracting to the driver and puts everyone at increased risk.
- Remember that the rules apply to every vehicle. Even if a relative or friend’s parent offers the front seat, explain that the child should say he or she prefers to sit in the back.
Long road trips can test the patience of adults and children alike. Bringing along quiet distractions such as card games, books, or hand-held electronic devices with headphones can make for a smoother journey for all.
And obviously, when traveling with very young children, correctly installed and properly used child safety and booster seats are not only smart, but are required by law.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, call me at (916) 921-6400.