Happy Trails

Secrets to safe and fun road trips.

Travels on the road allow for family bonding time. Whether your venture takes you around the neighborhood or across the country, follow these suggestions to ensure delightful and safe travels.

Focus on proper seating.

Before you enter the car, make sure you have a quality and comfortable car seat for the little ones. Some vehicle manufacturers offer a list of suggested models. Similarly, many companies have detailed online safety resources to outline protective features.

Once you have your booster seat, read the provided user guide for installation. Secure the car seat to the vehicle with either the seat belt or the product’s Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system. When finished, it should not move more than one inch side-to-side or front-to-back.

Purchase safe accessories.

Inquire whether the toys you choose have been tested or certified as sound. Also beware of items that attach to the car seat or require the seat’s handle to be extended or up while the vehicle is in motion.

Seek a second opinion.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four car seats are not installed properly. Have a certified Child Passenger Safety technician inspect your child’s seat. You can also attend a free car seat safety check in your area. Visit www.safekids.org for event listings.

Entertain passengers.

Bring activities to occupy kids during trips, such as books and drawing materials. Do keep in mind that during a car accident, loose items become projectiles. As a rule, the weight of the item multiplied by the car’s speed at the point of impact equals the level of force with which the item hits passengers. Therefore, it’s best to choose soft playthings for in-car enjoyment. If you have a vehicle with an open trunk design, install a barrier to keep objects securely in the back. Additionally, store away trinkets when you’re done using them. Children’s music is another great option that poses little to no physical risk in the case of an accident.

Occupy rear-facing kids.

Parents are often concerned about stimulating children that sit in rear-facing seats, opting to hang mirrors or toys to humor them. However, these accessories are a special concern. Rear-facing seats are designed to rebound, meaning they rotate toward the back of the seat to keep children safe during a crash. The more significant the collision, the more the seat spins. During rotation, children may come into contact with any hanging items and become injured.

Not to worry, as infants get plenty of stimulation from looking out the window and examining light and dark contrasts around them. Generally, accoutrements on the back of seats have little entertainment value.

Plan journeys around your child’s schedule.

Drive when your child is happiest and well-fed. For a youngster who sleeps well in cars, choose to set out during naptime to make the trip easier. Either way, the excursion should be based on your tot’s needs for a smoother experience.

Move around.

For especially long trips, take frequent breaks and remove your child from the car seat every couple of hours. The movement keeps young passengers from getting too restless. It also gives older children something to look forward to.

Travel as a pair.

Whenever possible, take long trips with two adults in the car, allowing one to drive and one to entertain the kids. Consider having one adult ride in the seat next to the car seat. The tag-team approach helps the driver focus on the road instead of on the fussy child passenger.

Once you’ve added these precautions to your travel checklist, you can be sure your clan is protected and entertained on the road.