According to the United States Department of Transportation, more than 90 percent of all holiday travel is by car. During the period between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the average road trip is 275 miles. For adults traveling with children, a road trip that long can lead to a lot of stress and distractions behind the wheel. Luckily, there are smart, savvy strategies you can employ that will help lower the risk of distractions while you’re on the road. Follow these tips to keep your family safe, and prevent them from becoming part of the 27,000 people who are injured and hundreds more who die in car accidents during the holidays every year.
Is Your Car Road Ready?
If you are driving your own vehicle, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic before you head out. A common cause of accidents is vehicle malfunction, which includes both the engine and tires. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 78,000 car accidents occur every year as a result of blow outs or flat tires alone. So, make sure that your car is road ready and your tires are properly inflated.
Check Car Seat Installation
As many as 8 out of 10 car seats are improperly installed, so confirm that yours isn’t one of them. The NHTSA lists detailed installation instructions for all car seat types. It’s worth a look to ensure that your children are properly secured.
Pack and store everything you will need so that it is easily accessible during the trip. Consider snacks, drinks, blankets, books, medications, and anything else you and your family will need to access. The more convenient the items, the less rummaging around you’ll have to do as the driver, and the fewer stops you’ll have to make.
You likely have at least a minimal emergency kit in your car year round. But, when travelling long distances, especially in inclement weather and with children, the kit should be upgraded to include items such as extra blankets and water. The American Red Cross has provided comprehensive emergency and first aid kit checklists on their website that serve as excellent resources.
Snacks will help keep you focused on the road because they will minimize the distractions associated with hunger. But, pack enough of everything for everyone, so there’s no fighting, and choose wisely because the wrong snacks can lead to unmanageable energy spikes and sticky, wet messes. Take along foods that are high in protein and low in sugar, like turkey jerky, trail mix, and cheese wedges. The protein will make them feel fuller, and you won’t have to worry too much about cleaning up.
Keep Them Busy
Snacks are one way to keep distractions to a minimum, but kids need something to do in the car as well. Just as with snacks, however, choose wisely. Noisy toys, balls, and toy guns will have the opposite effect you’re looking for, but handheld electronics, books, and other single-person oriented activities will keep the children distracted and discourage them from arguing and fighting.
Road trips can be exhausting and dangerous, especially if you’re unprepared and regularly being distracted by kids. But, with a little advanced preparation and savvy thinking, a potentially dangerous trip can turn into a fun, safe adventure for the whole family.