It’s that time of year, summer has come and gone, new clothes are in the closet, backpacks and lunch boxes have been eagerly chosen. The new school year is here, and one important question to answer is ‘what to do about carpools’?
It would be very convenient, no matter how short the drive, to share the burden of getting the kids to and from school or after school activities. Plus, the little ones enjoy riding with their friends and even family pets. This is no time to skimp on safety as most car crashes happen close to home and they are even more prevalent when so many commuters are on the roads before and after school. http://www.safekids.org/research-report/distracted-drivers-school-zones-national-report-2009
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind:
- If your child rides in a 5pt harness, keep them in the harness at all times. Whether they are starting Kindergarten or 5th grade, size matters when it comes to properly riding in a car, truck or van.
- Do not be surprised to hear that the school wants your child to be able to unbuckle themselves so the carpool line can move quickly. While this is not best practice there is too much liability for the school to have employees do it. A good option is to park the car and walk your children to the door or place them in the vehicle where you can easily reach them to unbuckle the harness.
- Be sure children, whether riding in booster seats or the adult seat belt, take off their backpacks and store them low or in the trunk. A child should never ride in a car while wearing their backpack.
- If you do share rides, be sure you have enough car seats, booster seats and/or seat belts for every child to be able to sit in the back seat unless they are over 13 years old. Even so, if the 13 year old is small, you should consider putting them in the back seat due to the force of an air bag opening up in a crash.
- Always put your car in park when your passengers are getting out of the car. You don’t want to chance taking your foot off the brake or accidentally pushing on the gas.
- Use of cell phones is usually forbidden. It’s obvious that we should not be distracted while driving anywhere, much less in and out of school zones.
- Let’s not forget the family pet. Although there are no regulations for pet harnesses in motor vehicles, something is probably better than nothing. If your pet weighs 10 lbs and you’re in a crash at just 15 mph, they suddenly become a 150 lb projectile flying through the car. This can cause serious injury to other passengers.
Carpooling to and from school should be fun. It’s a great time to catch up with your child and their friends. You learn a lot in just a short drive and if your ride is long, kids can see the world go by, unwind and just relax a little. Taking a few precautions is worth the effort. They will learn a lot of things at school. They will learn even more as they ride safely, with you.