With Summer winding down and school starting back up, many parents are opting to carpool with other families. While carpooling is a super smart and convenient option, here are 5 tips to ensure all your precious passengers stay safe.
1. HAVE A SAFETY DISCUSSION WITH YOUR CARPOOL
You may do all the right things when it comes to kids and cars, but what about the other parents you are entrusting your children with? Do they always make sure safety seats are being used properly? Do they always keep kids ages 12 and under in the backseat? Do they always refrain from using their cell phone while driving? Have a frank discussion with each driver and make sure you are all on the same page...the safest page.
2. REMEMBER BASIC CAR SEAT SAFETY
In a nutshell, kids should remain in their five point harness seats, as long as possible. Once they reach the maximum weight and/or height requirements for their five point harness seat (check your seat’s manual), they can move to a booster seat. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), young passengers should remain in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them correctly, usually at 4'9" and 8-12 years of age. At that point, they should always use a lap and shoulder belt (rather than a lap belt) for optimal protection and kids under the age of 13 should always ride in the backseat.
Ensuring each child had a proper car seat used to make carpooling a headache at times, but the introduction of portable booster options has made carpooling a breeze, now. The Bubble Bum and the Ride Safer Travel Vest are a couple great options that meet all Federal Vehicle Safety Standards and are a cinch to use. There is also a new product coming out called the mifold that is a fraction of the size of traditional boosters and fits in the glove compartment of your car.
3. CREATE AN EMERGENCY CALL LIST FOR EACH CHILD
Create a simple list that contains emergency information for each child in the carpool. Some information to include: parents’ contact information, an alternative contact number such as grandma or grandpa, the name, number and address of your pediatrician and child’s dentist, a copy of your medical insurance card and the child's medical history (i.e. allergies, special medications, etc.). Storing this information on each driver’s cell phone provides easy access.
4. CREATE AN ORGANIZED SCHEDULE
Ensure everyone knows when he or she is responsible for pick-up and drop-off by putting a schedule IN WRITING. This will avoid confusion for all involved. Doodle and Google Docs are great options to do this online. Be sure to also share your schedule with your children so they know who will be picking them up.
5. PRACTICE SAFE BEHAVIOR WHILE DRIVING
Imagine the kind of driver you hope your child will be at 16...and drive that way. Refrain from any distracting behaviors such as texting, blaring loud music or talking on the telephone. Always buckle up and follow the rules of the road. Also, be sure to secure anything that could become a projectile in your car if you should be in an accident. If you have an SUV, use the trunk cover. If you have toys in the car to entertain baby, be sure they aren’t heavy enough or have sharp edges to cause damage.
So welcome back to school everyone! I hope your year is a fun and SAFE one!
Stephanie is the voice behind the blog “The Inspired Mommy” where she shares (sometimes too much) what life with four children under the age of seven is really like...the good, the bad and the ugly....and how she loves every second of it.