Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, a time when many are planning to travel. Summer is exciting for this reason, and can be particularly enjoyable if you are making memories with your family and kids. There is nothing like a summer vacation but did you know, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, three out of four car seats are incorrectly installed.
Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found auto accidents are one of the leading causes of death among children.
These statistics are both alarming and sad. Safe driving techniques combined with a properly installed car seat dramatically reduces injury and death. Buckle Up for Life have put together some vital safety tips for traveling with children. We added some of our own too, so you can be assured you are doing everything possible.
Inch & Pinch
A good rule of thumb is the “Inch and Pinch Test.” In other words, pinch the car seat strap near your child’s shoulder – if you can pinch a wrinkle in the fabric, tighten it a little more. To perform the “Inch Test,” grab the car seat from the back and bottom – tug and pull from side to side and front to back. If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, tighten it a little more.
Your child’s car seat can get mighty hot on a blazing summer day. Start your vehicle first and let it cool by running the air conditioner. You can also give the car seat buckles and levers a quick touch to see if they are hot – if it burns your fingers, then it’s too hot for your child as well.
While it may go without saying, never leave your child unattended in a car seat on a hot day – or any day for that matter. There are tragic stories that pop up in the news like this from time to time and it’s always heartbreaking.
While it may seem logical, never add extra layers between the car seat and your child; towels in particular. The additional material can actually prevent the seat’s ability to restrain and protect your child in a collision. If you are going to have some type of accessory, make sure it’s approved by the car seat brand/manufacturer.
When you’re heading out on vacation, you have a lot of cargo from suitcases and duffle bags to coolers and beach umbrellas. Make sure all your items are secured – they are likely to become dangerous projectiles in the event of a crash or an evasive maneuver. The good news is that many of today’s vehicles have increased trunk and rear cargo spaces to help accommodate this.
Skip The Rental
It’s most certinately okay to rent a car for your summer getaway but don’t rent a car seat. It’s better if you purchase a top quality car seat and take it with you. We thought this list from Parenting had some really good options.
If you are flying and need to take your child’s car seat, check with the airline first. In most cases, you should be in luck as airlines are often very accommodating when it comes to children.
Know Your Vehicle
I spend a good portion of my automotive career as a Vehicle Coach and Product Specialist. Regardless of make or model, understand what your vehicle can and cannot do. Granted, automobiles today are safer than ever, be it through improvements to the body structure or with the ever increasing arrays of computer controlled safety technologies like lane keep assist – but there is no substitute for good, safe, and restful driving.
Understand if you are driving a minivan, it won’t handle like a sports or performance car, especially under the weight of passengers and cargo. Understand if you are driving an SUV or truck, 4×4 has limits and cannot save you if it’s being used outside its intended purpose. Be mindful of horsepower and torque. New vehicles when they launch most often feature an increase in these areas – and it looks great on a window sticker – but excessive speed is the archenemy of safety on today’s ever crowed roads.
And buckle up. Remember those old commercials? You can learn a lot from a dummy indeed.
Enjoy your travels and if you have additional questions, please contact us. We will respond to you personally.
*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.