Summer is here, and for many families that means it’s time for the great American road trip! If you’re hitting the road with your kids this year, be forewarned that your car is going to become just as much a living space as it is a vehicle. To safely travel with your kids, you’ll need to do a little bit of childproofing ahead of your trip.
- Take your car for a check-up. Your car needs to be in good working order before you entrust it with your precious cargo. Stop in for a tune-up and have your tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner checked out by a qualified mechanic.
- Get some sleep before you get behind the wheel. Prepping for a road trip can be hectic, but make sure you get a full night’s rest before starting your drive. Drowsy driving contributes to 100,000 accidents each year, so you should only drive when you’re well-rested. If there’s another adult along for the ride, try to switch off driving every few hours. Here’s another trick: use good posture. Sitting up straight can help keep you awake and alert.
- Give your car seats a once-over. Did you know that 8 of 10 car seats and booster seats are installed incorrectly? If you’re not sure yours are installed correctly, call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a location where you can go for a free inspection.
- Be prepared for emergencies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises people to keep a safety kit in the car, with water, warm blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, tools to change a tire, a fully charged cell phone, and a first aid kit. Additionally, it’s wise to have a subscription to a roadside assistance plan, so you’ll have help in case of an emergency.
- Protect your family from the sun. Everyone in the car should have sunblock and sunglasses. For little kids, sun hats offer great protection, as does a sunshade for the backseat. Keep the car seats covered with blankets when you leave the car, so that they don’t get too hot. Before buckling in your kids, check the seatbelts and car seat buckles to make sure they’re not hot to the touch. Remember that the inside of a parked car can reach deadly temperatures in a matter of seconds, even when the temperature outside is only 80 degrees. For that reason, you should never leave kids (or pets) alone in your car.
- Inspect the back seat before you load up the car. Child safety locks should be activated on the doors and windows. Make sure there’s nothing hazardous in the back seat, like washer fluid or loose change that could poison or choke. Don’t keep hard toys or books loose in the car, because they could become projectiles in an accident.
- Secure your luggage. Anything heavy should be stored low in the seat wells, and anything stored in an open cargo area should be secured. Just like a toy with a hard surface, these can become projectiles if you slam on brakes suddenly.
- Break your trip into manageable chunks. Every two hours or so, take a quick break to use the restroom, switch drivers, or just stretch your legs. Drinking water is a good way to stay alert, and it will also necessitate more frequent bathroom breaks.
- Be careful with your eyes at night. Oncoming headlights can be hard on the sensitive receptors in your eyes. Keep your eyes focused on the right shoulder of the road, and you’ll be able to see oncoming traffic in your peripheral vision. If you’re on the road with a lot of other cars, try to pay attention to at least ten cars in front of you.
- Get off the phone. Even hands-free phone calls can be dangerous because they’re distracting. Here’s an interesting fact: the part of your brain that processes moving images slows down by about a third when you’re listening to something. You don’t want to miss anything while you’re driving, so save the phone calls for later.
We hope you have a safe and happy road trip, making fun memories with your kids. If you find that your vehicle needs any kind of repair, contact B&L Automotive Repairs. A family-owned business, we have over 30 years of experience handling every kind of body and mechanical repair, and we’ve even got a play area to entertain the kids while you wait. Our expert staff is continually trained and updated, and our state-of-the-art equipment allows them to serve you with the highest level of expertise. No matter what make and model you drive, or which insurance company you use, we will provide fast and reliable service to make sure your needs are met. Call us today at (773) 463-1622, or contact us through our website for more information.