So, you’ve been driving since you were old enough to learn. In all that time you have picked up a lot of habits – both good and bad.
And now, there’s a child in the mix. With that comes a whole new list of habits for you to get into and develop. Because children watch, and they learn by watching. By being careful, you ensure the safety of your child.
Here are driving habits that new parents need to develop.
BE MINDFUL OF SPEED
It may be excellent for the thrill seekers and the daredevils among you to travel at twice the speed the speed limit. But when there is a child in the back, you need to be more careful! Legal implications aside; it’s not good if they feel unsafe in their own parents’ car. Besides, if you go too fast, you may not be able to control the car well.
Also, take care of speed humps. Not reducing your speed sufficiently here could risk causing physical injury to a child, even if they are in a car seat.
CHECKING ALL MIRRORS
Do all the usual and necessary checks before and during your journey. With a kid in the back, that’s one extra thing to bear in mind. When they are babies: are they asleep, or at least awake and content? If they are a toddler, are they suitably amused? Do they have their safety belt fastened, or have they unbuckled themselves in boredom?
Checking the mirrors, especially a car seat mirror if you have an infant, is also a useful check when the children are old enough to play around the vehicle. Before setting off on the day’s travels, are they nowhere near the front or back of the car? And have you checked your blind spot?
A simple checklist like this will stand you in good stead for when your child comes to ask questions about driving themselves.
CAR SEAT MAINTENANCE
If you are parents of a younger child or children who are likely to need a car seat for a fair few years yet, it may serve you well to keep a maintenance checklist for those car seats. They take more looking after than you may realize.
It’s not a case of taking it to the store for a check-up every half a year. Bear in mind wear and tear. Is it securely fitted to your vehicle? Is it visible to you from the driver’s seat? Has it met or exceeded its expiry date? Has the child outgrown theirs and needs to move onto a forward-facing one or even a booster seat? All this over a car seat? We know. But there are laws involved and being aware of them is a habit you need to adhere to as a parent.
DOUBLE, IF NOT TRIPLE-CHECK EVERYTHING
At the risk of sounding OCD, please check everything in your car. Kids have curious, wondering minds, which linked to curious, wandering hands. They see a button and want to press it. The list could go on.
If you are driving with a child on board a lot of the time, check all the things that could be touched, pressed, knocked, etc., are securely in place or locked down. It could be the saving factor in preventing a nasty accident.
Check the child constantly when in the car. Leaving them in the car is another thing to be careful of; Don’t leave your keys in the car or, even worse, at the ignition at the same time. It sounds ridiculous and highly unlikely, but it happens more often than you would imagine. Kids may go to the driver’s seat and pretend that they drive. What if they move the gear and they end up rear-ending another vehicle? That could induce a heart attack, right?
The bottom line is, please be mindful and careful of your child at all times. As a parent, you cannot afford to drive like the daredevil you were when you were single. It’s different now and you should act like it.