Winter Driving Tips: Don't Get In Your Car Until You Read This!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It’s that time of year when the weather can turn the streets into an adult’s slip-slide and not in a fun way. Driving with a car full of preschoolers is distracting in beautiful weather, but throw in some snow flurries and icy roads and you need some serious concentration. Here are some tips for getting through this winter on the road safely.

Winter ready. Now’s the time to make sure the family automobile is ready to take on that winter weather. Tires, fluids and brakes should be inspected and the car should be stocked with extra blankets, a snow brush, ice scraper, flashlight, water and food.

Car seat check. If your preschooler has outgrown his or her car seat, it’s time to upgrade to a booster seat (be sure to follow your state car seat law). It’s important your child’s seat fit their body appropriately and ensure the seat is installed correctly.

Warm up the car safely. As the temperatures dip, warming up the car becomes part of the daily routine and it’s not uncommon to return inside to finish getting the kids bundled up. However, there is one habit most people with a garage have, and that’s closing the garage door upon entering the house. The result of pushing that button will not only turn your garage toxic with carbon monoxide, but it can also seep into your home. To prevent such a harmful situation, back your car out of the garage just a few feet to stop the garage from closing – just in case.

Never leave the kids alone in the car. Most parents know not to leave children alone in the car during summer months due to the dangers of high temperatures. But that rule needs to be practiced year-round. It only takes a moment for little hands to unfasten their belt, find the gearshift, move it into neutral and cause a catastrophe.

Dress for the worst. Even if you’re going on a quick trip through the bank drive-thru or dropping off an older child in the school carpool line, it’s imperative everyone in the car is dressed in winter wear (or at least have winter coats in the car). If the car breaks down or there is an accident, standing on the side of the road not dressed appropriately can be extremely dangerous if temperatures are cold enough.

Let voicemail get it. Parents are fantastic multitaskers, but the car is one place it’s important to focus on one thing - and that’s driving. Even if the phone is ringing or your phone is teasing you with the chime of a new email, don’t give into temptation. It only takes a second to become distracted and for an accident to occur.

Slowdown. Running late can turn on the panic switch but no matter what, it’s not worth speeding. Black ice and slippery streets can instigate unwanted circumstances, especially on bridges.

Drive differently in the snow. Turn on those headlights, slow down at intersections, break slowly, and never use cruise control on a wet road.

Pack for peace. Kids need to be entertained 24/7 and that includes their car time. Keep a stash of drawing boards, books, and toys within easy reach of the young backseat riders. Always place sippy and snack cups in car seat cup holders so you don’t feel the need to ever reach back.

It’s okay to say no. When the kids start demanding your attention from the backseat with shouts of, “Look! Look!” there is nothing wrong with saying “not right now” with promises to give them your attention when the car stops at a red light. Simply setting the example of “safety first” when in the car will influence them to be better drivers when the time comes while keeping them safe now.

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