School is back in session and the list of extracurricular activities available to school-aged children keeps growing. This summer, we added a third child to the mix and upgraded to a minivan. One of the best things about our eight-passenger van is that now I have the ability to drive other people around.
My son goes to Brazilian jiu-jitsu two to three time a week and it is about a 20 minute drive each way. For an hour long class, that means we get to stay the whole time. Luckily, last month a neighbor joined the same class and now we get to carpool.
I am a pretty cautious driver, but become so much more cautious when other people’s children are in my car. Here are some tips for making sure you get all the precious cargo home to their parents safely.
5 Ways to Make Your Car Pool Even Safer:
Appropriate car seats. I’m big on this one. If you are supposed to be in a car seat, you’ll be in one in my car. My 8 year old is in one, my 6 year old is in one, of course the baby is in one, and I have an extra for your kid if they need one. I follow the upper end of the law, which says 8 years of age and/or 4’9” in height. I’ve even gone so far as to borrow car seats and make kids who haven’t sat in one for year sit in one in my car.
Seat Belts for everyone. This one is simple, if there aren’t enough seat belts, someone isn’t going. And the front seat doesn’t count. Only adults or teenagers over 13 are in the front of my car. Partially because I don’t want a kid up there talking to me while I’m driving, and mostly because it just isn’t safe. My niece gets really upset at this because she is a very tall 12 year old, but oh well, to the back she goes.
Minimize distractions. This goes beyond not texting and driving. This means focused on driving, and not on homework, breaking up fights in the back seat, or engaging in deep theological discussions with your 6 year old. It means being hyper aware in parking lots and car drop off lines at school. While you and your kids are safe inside your car, those outside of it aren’t protected upon impact.
Take Care of your car. Did you put a lot of miles on your car this summer on vacation? Has it been to the shop lately? You could be driving the safest hunk of steel on the market, but if you don’t take care of it, the safety factors quickly diminish. Regular oil changes, tire rotations, and safety checks can help extend the life of your car and make you feel more comfortable driving it.
Talk to the other parents. As we all know, parenting comes in many different forms. Before allowing your children to ride in someone else’s car, a quick discussion is probably appropriate. I like to know the other person well enough to feel comfortable with my kids riding with them. If necessary, I send a car seat and I make sure that my child knows to obey all the rules of that car. I also make sure to let the other parent know if plans change or if we are running late, common courtesy and mutual respect go a long way here.
My children are the most important things I transport in my car. Your children are a very, very close second. We can even call it a tie. If we all follow the same guidelines, our children will know what to expect and how to act, regardless of where they are sitting. Let’s teach our kids to be safe in the car and grow the next generation of safe drivers together.
Check out the Steel Matters blog for more tips and information on driving safely when others are in your car, and how #SteelMatters in the vehicles that we chose to drive our family around in.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Steel Market Development Institute. The opinions and text are all mine.