As parents, you will do anything to ensure your kids are safe at all times. When you're driving with a toddler, safety becomes an even more critical issue since you need to be able to leave them be while you focus on driving. These tips will ensure your kids stay safe and all your attention stays on the road.
For your kids, many seat models can be adapted with padding, as long as they don't have a shield.
Car seats with shields in front should not be used for kids because their face or chest could hit the shield in the event of a crash.
Car seats with a space of 13.75 cm, or less, between the crotch strap and the seat back, will prevent your kids from slouching too much.
Car seats with shoulder harness slots located 25 cm or less above the seat bottom will work best to hold your child's body in place.
Shoulder straps must be placed in the lowest slots for better comfort.
Household carriers or feeding seats are not strong enough to protect your child in a crash so avoid using such materials.
Automotive preventive maintenance and repair knowledge is like algebra. We're not born knowing it, it has to be learned. Teach your young drivers the basics about their cars before you hand over the keys. If you don't know much about automotive maintenance/ repair, do yourself a favour and learn it along with your kids. Here are a few tips:
• Explain that all cars, new and old, need regular attention. Make sure your teenager knows and follows the maintenance schedule of his/her car. In addition to making a car safe to drive, preventive maintenance can save a lot of money during a lifetime of driving. • Don't overlook the owner's manual. This is full of information about the car that your young driver may never know. • Make it fun. There are myriad sites on the internet that are fascinating for young and old drivers, alike. Some have Q & A sections. Let your teen send his/her tough questions to the professionals. • It's probably been a while since they went on a field trip. Take them with you to the repair facility, the tire store, the body shop and wherever you have automotive work performed. Get them accustomed to the automotive world; its people, places, jargon and prices. • There are hundreds of books available on this subject. Many are written specifically for non-technical audiences; some are even humorous. Buy a few and make them required reading for the licensing process. • Make a plan. What happens if the car breaks down, he/she has a wreck, or the car gets stolen? What if no adults are home to receive the panic call? Whether you want your teenager to call your family repair facility or a relative, give them some instruction and put important phone numbers in a safe compartment.
For many parents, driving age is the final boundary. Certainly it is and should be an important ritual of passage for teenagers. Don't let your child pass into this stage of his/her life without being prepared. Take the time and the necessary materials to make your young driver feel competent and secure.
In our next few tips, we will take up some safety issues. Today we will look at the importance of seat belts. It’s amazing how many of us ignore this vital guard. The function of a seat belt is to keep you inside the vehicle in case it crashes. It prevents you from being thrown out, and also from colliding with the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield. Most of the new cars today come with seat belts --- adjustable upper belts, shoulder belts etc. But be sure that you use them. And if you’re driving one of the older models, get some seat belts fixed. They could save your life.
You may not be able to see it, but under the trim of the vehicle interior lies an energy absorbing material --- most commonly foam --- that’s there to protect your head from injury in case you crash. This protection is designed in such a manner as to protect the top of your head from injury when it strikes the upper interior of the car. Some of the latest global models even have head air bags, and it’s only a matter of time before our Indian manufacturers start doing the same.
Head restraints --- extensions to your vehicle seats --- are a must. These restraints minimise the possibility of neck injury during a crash from behind, as they reduce head movement. Ideally, the top of the head restraint should be between the top of your ears and the top of your head. If your seats don’t have head restraints, get them now.
Assuming you crash your car, the airbags in the front inflate accordingly, depending on the speed at which you crash, and the stiffness of the object you strike. The inflation of the airbags prevents you from smashing against the dashboard, steering wheel or windshield. Some cars also have side air bags, which protect you from the doors or from vehicles that crash into yours from the side. However, many manufacturers don’t use side air bags, and resort to padding and improved door and body structures to reduce impact from the sides.