By now you probably know that we are planning to move house very soon. However, did you know that we are moving quite far north from where we are? Well that, of course, means quite a bit of travel time (2 hours to be precise) with our daughter in the car. Now, 2 hours normally doesn’t sound like that much, but we’ll be doing the bulk of the moving on one day, meaning going back and forth at least 3 times…
So that’s 6 hours of driving, with our punk rock princess in the car with us. It’s pretty much a road trip. And as such, car safety is right up there in terms of priority for us. So, I thought I’d put together a list of tips for car safety for when travelling on long journeys with kids! Let’s go it, shall we?
Get The Right Car Seat
This is probably one of the most important aspects of travelling with a kid… Especially my daughter, who gets bored and fidgety very quickly. Finding the right car seat for your child is imperative, but it means more than just the cutest colour or most awesome design.
You need to find one that does two things; grows with your child so they are always safe, and fits securely into your car with no risk of being dislodged. As Cars.com wrote, performing detailed car seat checks is an absolute must! If your car seat and car has the LATCH system, then this can be really helpful, as it is a far safer way to install a car seat than just using the seatbelt threaded through the car seat.
Check The Fluid Levels
No, I don’t mean how many drinks you have in your cup holders! If you’re about to go on a long journey with your kids, then you absolutely must check the oil, coolant and brake fluid levels.
One of the worst things that could happen to you and your family is to get stuck somewhere with an overheated engine or, heaven forbid, have an accident because your brakes seize up and you can’t control the car. Now, I’m not trying to be a scaremonger, but I cannot stress enough just how important it is to make sure your car is in fully working condition!
Make Sure You’re Well Rested
As the sole driver in our family, this one falls squarely on my shoulders, as indeed does the trip itself. If you’re going to be driving for hours at a time, that can be very stressful and tiring. There are thousands of other people out on the roads, and you’ve got to keep a close eye on all of them. Therefore, it is utterly essential that you have had enough sleep and rest before you set out.
I’ve known many people who have drifted off behind the wheel, if only for a few seconds, and it never ends well. So make sure you are wide awake with enough energy to last the length of the journey!
Keep Them Distracted, Don’t Let Them Distract You
As a Dad, I can tell you now that kids can be very distracting in the car. They get bored, start to fidget or moan, and generally just want attention. It’s just the way kids are. This is especially true on longer journeys. Because of this, you need to make sure you have something to distract them. Now, this may not seem like a safety tip, but it really is. As long as your kids are distracted and enjoying themselves, they won’t be taking your attention away from the road.
Getting your hands on some in car toys and games for them, or having your partner sit in the back with the kids to give them attention, frees you up to concentrate on the road. This, in turns, makes your journey infinitely safer.
Check Your Tyres
One thing I used to forget all the time when I was younger was checking my tyres before going on a trip of any length. This lead to a few flat tyres and one case of suddenly having no grip on one wheel. I’m sure you can imagine how scary that was… And I was a young, single man at the time.
Now that I’m a Dad, I check my tyres weekly without fail, even though I only use the car to go to work or to the shops 99% of the time. However, if I’m going to drive a long way, especially with the family, I make sure to fully check each tyre. This includes the following;
- Is there enough air in the tyres?
- Is there a puncture or has anything pierced the tyres?
- Is the tread still good on each tyre?
- Is there any signs of damage from wear and tear?
If there are any problems with the tyres that cannot be fixed easily, then I will go and buy a new tyre. The cost isn’t too much, and let’s be honest, you can’t put a price on the safety of your family, can you?
Since we’re going to be moving house, we’re naturally going to have a lot of stuff in the car. Therefore, we need to make sure that everything is packed carefully, with great consideration for safety. What I mean by this isn’t just that the stuff won’t fall down (which is really important too), but that it doesn’t put too much weight and strain on the car.
The extra weight of all that baggage seriously changes the way a car handles, especially if you’re used to driving the car without that weight. It will make braking a lot slower, accelerating much harder, and turning all the more tricky. That’s why you need to pay close attention to how much stuff you are actually putting in the car, as well as how you are going to fit it all in. Being able to still handle the car when on the road is far more important than those spare towels you want to take!
Plan Your Route, Or Use A GPS
This is another one that may not seem like a safety measure, but really is. Not knowing where you are going or how to get there can lead to a lot of stress for everyone in the car. As the driver, this is even worse for you, as you have to try and figure out which way to go whilst on the road. This means looking at all of the road signs, concentrating on figuring out a route rather than what is happening on the road around you. This is a huge distraction as a driver, which as I mentioned early, is really not a good thing!
So make sure you plan your route out, and if you can, use a GPS or Google Maps with the voice turned on. This will help considerably, as you can concentrate on controlling the car and what is going on around you, whilst knowing that you’re on the right track without being distracted!
And That’s All Folks
Those are my seven tips for car safety when on a family road trip. As I mentioned earlier, the is not price that you can put on the safety of your family, be it monetary or time. So whenever you’re going on a long journey with your kids, make sure you check everything, get enough rest and have something or someone to distract and entertain the kids.
In the end, this will make everyone more relaxed and allow you to drive safely for the duration of the trip! If you have any car safety tips for families, then let us all know in the comments below!