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1. Using and Installing the right Car Seat– There are many types and styles of car seats so it can be tricky to choose which seat is right for you. Infant seats, convertibles, full-sized boosters, and backless boosters are readily available at box stores and baby stores. Choose a seat that is right for the size of your child, has good safety ratings, and fits properly into your car. Not all seats are designed to fit all cars, so ask if you can have a test installation before buying a seat. Children from birth to 3 years old may require a rear-facing car seat. The next step up is a forward-facing seat that can be suitable for children anywhere from 2-7 years old. When your child outgrows the forward-facing seat, they should use a booster seat until they can properly fit into a seat belt. Installing the car seat properly is just as important as having the correct seat. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully. Place the car seat in the back seat and secure it. It should not be able to move front-to-back or side-to-side more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path. For rear-facing seats, make sure the correct recline angle is used, most seats are labeled to determine the correct angle. For forward-facing seats, connect it to the tether strap and be sure it is tightened to limit movement during an accident.
2. Feed and Change before driving– When a baby starts fussing your instinct is to immediately take your eyes off the road and look at your baby. While babies are unpredictable and accidents can happen at any time, it is best to feed and change your baby before you get in the car. If it is possible, try and time your trips around their nap times, or when they are tired. Also, never try to feed your baby when driving. Pullover first.
3. Be a Defensive Driver– Defensive driving means you are prepared to react to the unexpected, all while staying alert and maintaining a safe speed.
4. Use a Sunshade– Install a sunshade to the window closest to your baby. This will help keep the sun out of the baby’s eyes, as well as keep light out when they are sleeping. Sunshades are also a great way to help maintain the temperature in the vehicle.
5. Get a Backseat Mirror– Install a mirror in the back seat so you can see your child with a quick glance in the rearview mirror. However, don’t use this as an excuse to keep making eye contact with your baby. Being able to see the infant will help keep you from being stressed out and the mirror will keep you from turning around to check on them and taking your eyes off the road.
6. Have Co-Pilot– If possible, it is always nice to have someone that can either drive you while you sit in the back, or they sit in the back with the baby. This way they can take care of your kid while you focus on driving. This may not always be possible, but if it is it will help keep you much more relaxed and your baby much quieter.
7. Turn Off Your Phone– It’s never ok to talk and drive and worse to text and drive. When you also have a baby to think about, not much of your brain is left for concentrating on the road. Turn your phone off all together, rather than using hands-free or screen-based systems. It is just too much distraction for anyone to cope with. Best place to put your phone? The back seat next to your baby. New parents forget their child is there all the time, because it’s not part of the routine yet, and this is how babies get left in cars.
You are the key to making sure your family and passengers are safe on the road. This means it is all the more important to be rested, drive defensively, and remove other distractions such as your cellphone from the equation. If you or a loved one has been injured and would like to talk with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, contact us for a free consultation!