From cradle to prom, there are many things that you will need to do to keep your kids safe in the car. Most driving tips for parents focus on how to teach your teen to drive. However, we’ve learned that new parents have almost as many car accidents per year as young drivers do. It turns out that much of the advice for both types of drivers coincide.
Rest Up for the Road
We understand that new parents often struggle to get enough sleep, but tired driving can be very dangerous. Until you can get a good routine in place, think twice about those short, quick trips that you might be able to skip. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with these errands from your friends and family.
With so much pressure to keep grades up and make it to extracurriculars, teens often come up short on shuteye as well. According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly three-quarters of young drivers admit to driving while sleep-deprived in a given year. Keep an eye on your teens’ sleep habits, and keep their keys if they can’t keep curfew.
Gadgets Must Go
The role of super-parent seems to require multitasking to the extreme. In fact, more and more parents can’t keep their hands off their gadgets while driving. Meanwhile, teens are more obsessed with their smartphones than ever. Seeing you on your devices could make your children feel that it’s okay to use theirs when they start to drive.
Here are some strategies to help break these bad habits:
- Leave your mobile phones out of reach in the backseat while you are driving.
- Turn your phones to silent mode for all those endless notifications.
- Set up your GPS route before you start moving.
- Only use hands-free calling for emergencies—it’s still a distraction.
- If you listen to music, pick your playlist ahead of time.
Keep a Checklist
Don’t skimp on your automobile safety checks. Teach your teen to walk around the vehicle to check the lights and other components at least once a week, if not daily. Meanwhile, don’t fall out of practice yourself. Your kids will only learn to take these tasks seriously if they see you doing them. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Measure tire inflation while the tires are “cold”— first thing in the morning works best. Make sure your teens always have a pressure gauge on hand by adding one to the key ring.
- Check whether the headlights work, even if you don’t think that you will be out past dusk. Also, test out your turn signals and brake lights. You could hang some mirrors in your driveway to make this step easier on cold days.
- Look under the car for leaks. This way, you may be able to catch a problem before any warning lights turn on.
- Inspect for any other defects. It may not be raining when you look, but a faulty wiper blade is never a pleasant surprise during a sudden downpour.
Make Some Adjustments
If you share an automobile with a family member who’s a foot taller than you, it’s important for everyone to remember to make correct adjustments every time. Teach teens to adjust the mirrors and seat position for every trip, no matter how short it will be. Make it a habit for yourself, too, so you won’t make a costly mistake.
For all you new parents, child car seats also need to be adjusted properly. Read those instructions cover to cover like your life depends on it—because your child’s life does. If you’re still unsure of how to install the child seat, you can visit a car seat inspection station and ask for help.
How you adjust to the life changes outside of the vehicle is up to you. Just remember—it’s okay just to be a regular parent if trying to be a super-parent will make you or your teens less safe behind the wheel. If you lead by example, your children will probably grow up to be safe drivers as well.
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