The Ultimate Car Safety Guide:
Avoid these mistakes when driving with kids
Driving with kids can be challenging sometimes: from struggling to strap them into their car seats to constantly having to pay attention to what is happening on the road and on the backseats at the same time. Having young children on board makes driving with caution all the more important.
While it can be taxing driving with kids, car safety should not be taken lightly. The WHO notes car traffic accidents as the leading cause of death for children above the age of 5 and young adults world over. It is estimated that road accidents claim the lives of 1.35 million people each year around the globe. Another statistic by the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) from 2018 indicates that the majority of children physically harmed in car accidents were back-seat drivers rather than young cyclists and pedestrians.
Factors that significantly increase the risk of children sustaining injuries in car accidents include improper use of car seats, not buckling in the kids, the driver not wearing a seatbelt, and driving under the influence.
The best way to avoid accidents and ensure safety for your kids is to be well prepared before the journey even starts. Making thoughtful decisions when it comes to choosing car safety features and avoiding some key mistakes is the best way to ensure a safe ride with the kids.
Here are some mistakes that could compromise the safety of you and your kids while driving:
1. Choosing the right car seat
Car seats significantly reduce the risk of injury to children, so parents should always make sure their kids are strapped into one when on the road.
Even if you are renting a car for a vacation it is important to utilize the child car seat option. Most car rental companies gradually reduce the cost of child seats the longer you rent a car so renting the seat for a day alone will be a rather pricier option. Weekly prices start can start at only 60 EUR at Avis or Europcar but vary among car rental companies. Rental fees at Hertz (67.20€) Buchbinder (67.55€), Budget (73.80€), Sixt (73.92€) and Enterprise (77.98€) reflect the average price level around 72€ per day for a children car seat.
As children need different types of car seats as they are growing up, finding the right one can be difficult. If you would like to find out more about how to choose the right child seat, whether it will be for your own car or a rented one, check out the Joonko Guide ‘Safely on the road’.
2. Using a car seat correctly:
3. Make sure that the car seat is properly installed
4. Make sure to activate child safety locks and lock power windows
5. Never leave a child alone in the car
An overheating car could put kids at risk of suffering dehydration or heat stroke. At an outside temperature of 35°C, only a 15 minute exposure to the sun can heat up the inner of a car up to 46°C. Young children are particularly vulnerable to heat as the body temperature of a toddler can climb three to five times more quickly as compared to an adult. Therefore parents should avoid leaving the kids alone in the car even for a few moments as they rush outside for a quick errand.
6. Follow the law to ensure safe driving
7. Keep an emergency kit inside the car at all times
8. Keep the car well maintained to avoid accidents
9. Generally make sure you have complete insurance coverage
When travelling abroad by car, drivers have to adapt to new and probably unfamiliar circumstances in traffic. Therefore, it is indispensable for drivers to face this comparably higher risk with higher caution and the right car insurance for the destination country.
It is recommendable to first check, if the current insurance for your home country may be valid in the target country. Most comprehensive insurance policies already include sufficient coverage for most european countries. But as some car insurers even exclude certain EU countries from their coverage regarding car theft or just the theft of car parts, it may be necessary to close a short term foreign damage protection in order to ensure sufficient coverage when driving abroad.
As a proof of a valid insurance coverage for the foreign country, drivers need to carry their International Motor Insurance Certificate or so called ‘Green Card’. It includes important information on the responsible insurer, contact details and emergency numbers.
10. Plan your breaks in advance
Car travels are not only tiring for the driver. Young children often struggle with the lack of movement and need regular stops even more. This helps not only keeping the body fresh but can also make an immense difference when it comes to diplomacy with the kids during the ride. Crayons and paper, audio books, card games, quizzes, riddles or other games can help keeping a cool head in meantime.
Most service station operators provide information about their station network online and can help planning your stops. To be flexible and avoid bad surprises, inform yourself beforehand, which stations actually have proper sanitary facilities, a restaurant or a playground.