The American road trip is a longstanding tradition. You pile into the car with your significant other and the kids and head out to find adventure. Maybe you’re just driving a couple of states over to see the relatives instead.
In either case, you’re going to be in the vehicle together for multiple hours. You must talk to your kids about car safety. You need to stress that certain activities are and aren’t okay when you’re driving.
Here are ways you can keep your children safe as you head toward your destination.
Make Sure They Always Wear Their Seatbelts
The Texas Department of Transportation warns that in 2018, 982 people who were not wearing seatbelts died on the state’s highways and roads. You need to:
- Talk to your kids about wearing their seatbelts
- Check that the younger kids are all strapped in before you leave
The chances of death or injury for a child or adult are much higher when you neglect to wear seatbelts. It seems like an obvious thing, and yet, many drivers and passengers neglect to do it.
Try to teach your kids about seatbelt safety from the time they are very small. If they’re not old enough yet for a seatbelt, strap them into a car seat. There are several good ones on the market.
Tell Them Not to Distract You
It’s easy for children to experience boredom when on a multiple-hour road trip. However, much like seatbelt enforcement, you need to make sure they’re aware of how dangerous distracted driving is. Distracted driving:
- Contributes to many car crashes every year
- Can easily occur if your kids are making lots of noise
Before you leave, talk to your children about how you need to keep your eyes on the road when you’re driving, and they need to stay quiet for everyone’s safety.
A little bribery is not a bad idea in these scenarios. You can tell the younger ones that if they’re quiet and well-behaved during the drive, you’ll get them a new toy or some other small treat when you arrive.
Bring Video Games or Books to Distract Them
It’s also a smart idea to bring along some video games, books, or toys to keep the kids occupied during the trip. There are many phone apps now that can distract kids during long drives. Some of them even have educational components.
It gives some people headaches when they read in a moving vehicle, so books might not be the best choice for every child. If your spouse or partner is riding shotgun, though, they might be willing to read a story to the kids as you roll along. That will be a welcome distraction.
You Can Play Games as Well
Another way to keep the children from distracting you as you handle the driving duties is to play a game with them. You can bring along a book of Mad Libs, a fun activity that helps build vocabulary. You might play I Spy, another classic road game that even very young children can play.
You could also try to spot license plates from all the different states. You might play Twenty Questions.
You Can Make a Backseat Movie Theater
Most smartphones can play movies now, and if you can’t think of any other way to keep your kids from distracting you, you could have them watch a movie that you downloaded in advance. Make sure that you selected one that is age-appropriate.
Some cars these days even have built-in backseat entertainment systems that play music, TV shows, movies, etc. If your vehicle has one, that’s a fine way to keep the kids occupied as you chew up some miles.
Although you’re eager to get to your destination, one more thing you can do to keep your kids safe is not to speed and to drive defensively. You might want to make up some time on the highway, but remember that your most precious cargo, your family, is in the car with you.
Regardless of whether your kids are rambunctious or being perfect angels, the best way to keep them safe is to obey traffic laws and not let your mind wander. You have a part to play in getting everyone safely to the destination, and it’s even bigger than theirs.
If you drive safely, you’ve buckled the kids in, and you have something to occupy them, then you should get to where you’re going with no trouble.