Carpooling is not only convenient, but it’s also a fun and efficient means of transportation (both during the school year and during the summer when kids are headed to day camps, warm weather activities, and play dates). Here are five 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 when it comes to safety.
2. Remember basic car seat safety: In a nutshell, kids should remain in their five-point harness seats for as long as possible. Once they reach the maximum weight and/or height requirements for their five-point harness seat (check your car 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 somewhere between 8-12 years of age. The seat belt fits properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Kids ages 12 and under should always sit in the back seat.
The introduction of portable booster options has made carpooling easier than ever. 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. The Mifold is another new product 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, grandpa or a nearby friend), 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 age 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 and don’t have sharp edges to cause damage.
Jennifer Beall Saxton is the founder and CEO of Tot Squad, a trusted partner of retailers, stroller, and car seat brands that offers car seat installation, baby gear cleaning and stroller repair. Franchising opportunities and more information on tot squad is available at thetotsquad.com.