When you’re traveling with kids and pets on the road, keeping them safe is paramount. Yet, having this precious cargo in the car can create risk for all due to the added distraction. Distractions from little passengers, including crying babies, or excited pets darting from one side of the vehicle to the other, prove very risky for drivers. Here’s what you can do to prepare for your next ride, with your two and four-legged children, so that everyone stays safe on the road.
Traveling with your children can bring life-long memories whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store or a family fun road trip. Teach your children that the driver’s responsibility is to ensure everyone arrives to their destination safely, but that passengers also play a role in their safe arrival. Encourage children to be safety co-pilots by involving them in the ride. Explain how drivers must pay attention to other cars and pedestrians, as well as explaining the meaning of each color on stop lights and other road signs.
Drivers should be prepared for the following when traveling with children:
- Proper Restraints – Car seats or booster seats with safety restraints, and seat belts should be used at all times for little passengers. Each state can vary on safety requirements. A good rule of thumb, however, is that any child under the age of eight should be in a car or booster seat depending on their weight.
- Distractions – Certain distractions can sometimes be alleviated by having another adult present who can help respond to children when needed. This helps to reduce the amount of distractions for the driver allowing them to focus their attention on the road. If you need to assist children while in the car for any reason, without another passenger present, pull the vehicle over to safe spot on the side of the road.
- Conversations – It’s easy to get distracted when children are in the car, especially if the parent is attempting to soothe a crying or upset child, helping the child to find a misplaced toy or sippy cup, or the child has fallen ill.
- Misbehavior - When children are misbehaving in the backseat, a driver can easily be distracted by turning around or looking in the rearview mirror to reprimand children. This takes the driver’s eyes and ears off the road and increases the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident.
Traveling with your pets is sometimes a necessity be it a trip to the vet or to a certain coffee shop that serves a pet-friendly “drink.” Watching a dog enjoy a car ride is certainly one of life’s happy experiences. Just like with children, however, traveling with a pet can be dangerous. Here’s a few safety tips on how you and your fur child can get to your next destination, safely:
- Pet Restraints – The safest way to transport a pet is to secure them in a seat belt or restrained pet carrier. Not only do seat belts and carriers keep your pets from moving freely about the cabin, but it helps protect them in the event of an accident—which could cause severe injury or death.
- Barriers – What dog doesn’t love to ride up front, nose out the window, and tongue flapping in the wind? While some dogs may find this blissful, some anxious pups may instead attempt to climb onto your lap, putting both of you at risk for an accident. Installing a barrier can prevent this sort of dangerous behavior. Many types of barriers exist that can be installed specifically for your vehicle.
- Climate Control – If for any reason you have to leave your pet in the car, be aware of the outside temperature. What may feel like a comfortable day outside won’t feel the same inside a car. Shockingly, if the outside temperature is 75 degrees, the interior of a vehicle can easily reach 100 degrees or more. In some states, leaving a pet in a vehicle is illegal. Whenever possible, take your pet with you when exiting the vehicle.
Driving with kids and pets can create dangerous situations for all passengers but can also be enjoyable by implementing a few safety precautions first. Sharing adventures with your children and fur-children is one of the greatest parts of being a parent (or pet parent). By keeping your pets and children restrained with seatbelts and safety seats and by keeping them happy and well-behaved on the road, you’ll have memories to build for years to come.