Right now, most Americans are dealing with a quandary: should we travel this winter? COVID-19 has made many trepidatious over gathering with family, with concerns over the safety surrounding air travel, hotel stays, and much more. However, COVID-19 shouldn’t be our only concern; research shows that car accidents always go up around the holidays.
Does this mean you should cancel all holiday travel? Of course not! While this holiday season may look different, eventually we’ll all be able to resume our family trips – and when we do, here’s how you can stay safe.
Take Your Time
For many families, road trips can feel like a real chore. Packing up the car is a pain, the long hours on the road are tedious, and if you’re driving with kids you can expect a lot of fighting and more than a few “potty breaks.” Even the best driver can buckle under the pressure, leading to reckless driving and a greater risk for accidents.
Instead of trying to speed to your destination or drive while also disciplining your kids, schedule enough time to take breaks when you need to. This will relieve some stress and prevent distracted driving, while also giving you and the kids room to stretch your legs and feel more comfortable.
Prepare Your Car
If you’re planning to take a very long road trip, your car needs to be in tip-top shape. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, inflated tires, and a running engine – these things will be vital to safely reaching your destination.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure that any child car seats are ready for the long journey. Make sure the car seats pass the “inch test” (they shouldn’t move more than one inch in any direction) and that they’re adjusted to fit your child comfortably and safely.
Have Roadside Assistance
AAA, OnStar, and other roadside assistance companies can be lifesavers when you’re on the road. These companies will send someone to take care of you if you get a flat tire, run out of gas, or suffer any other car trouble while on your trip.
While it may seem unnecessary, roadside assistance is a great tool to have when you’re traveling with little ones. Trust us, you don’t want to be changing a tire while your toddler screams from the side of the road!
Have a First Aid Kit
Roadside assistance can help you solve major problems on the road… but what about the minor problems that happen inside the vehicle? If you or your kids get a papercut, scrape, or other injury on your trip, you’ll need a way to keep the wound clean and safe ASAP.
The easiest way to handle small injuries on a road trip is with a first aid kit. Keep on in your glove box or trunk of your car, and you’ll be able to clean cuts, put on band aids, and kiss “boo boos” as soon as you reach a rest stop.
Never Leave a Child Alone
When you’re on a road trip, you might feel like time is of the essence. If you’re stopping to use the restroom or to grab a snack, it might seem practical to leave someone in the car if they don’t feel like getting out. We understand the temptation, but please NEVER, EVER DO THIS.
Leaving your child in the car alone puts them at risk of overheating, kidnapping, and a host of other dangers. Make sure an adult that you trust is always with your child, even if you’ll only be gone for a minute or two.
Have Snacks and Toys Handy
Drivers on a road trip have one job: focus on the road. However, it can be hard to do that when your toddler is screaming, “I’m hungry! I’m bored! Are we there yet?” These questions can quickly turn a focused driver into a distracted one, so it’s best to keep the kids entertained from the beginning.
Keep a few toys and snacks within your child’s reach, so they can grab what they need to stay entertained throughout the trip. Not only will this keep you from getting distracted, it can help you avoid stopping for too many road snacks – saving you money AND limiting your potential exposure to COVID-19!
Sit Someone Responsible in the Back Seat
If you’re traveling with very young children or children with special needs, sometimes the usual toys, books, and snacks aren’t enough to keep them occupied. Therefore, it’s best to have a parent, older sibling, or other responsible person sit in the backseat with the kids. They can keep the kids occupied so you can focus on the road.
This team effort (along with the rest of our tips) can help you avoid car accidents and dangerous incidences during your next road trip. If you’re careful and you follow our advice, you’ll be able to enjoy your next trip without worrying about getting there safely.