A little planning will ensure your next road trip with one or more children will be happy and safe, no matter where you’re going. Enjoy your road trip with the family using these seven tips, and you will all be safer and happier - and you and your kids may even have fun along the way!
(BPT) - Whether the length of your drive is three hours or 30 minutes, it can seem an eternity with a bored child in the car. A little planning will ensure your next road trip with one or more children will be happy and safe, no matter where you’re going.
Here's how you and your kids can stay safe and enjoy the journey almost as much as the destination.
1. Factor in time for pit stops
Don’t try to crush a several-hour driving marathon to get there quickly. Children need frequent breaks to use the restroom, have a healthy meal — and release their pent-up energy. Look for signs of restlessness and stop before kids get too out of sorts.
When you stop, find a safe spot where your kids can stretch their legs and run around a little. If they’re sluggish, organize a quick game of tag or catch, or encourage them to do a jumping-jack competition.
If frequent stops are making you later than expected, call ahead to let people know you’re off schedule. Better to take your time and arrive safe and happy.
2. Make sure kids stay buckled up, the whole time
Help keep your kids safe by making sure your child is buckled up every time, for every ride. As older kids get restless, they may unbuckle themselves during a long drive. Make sure you’re checking periodically throughout the trip, not just when you first pull out of the driveway. After every rest stop or meal, ensure kids are buckled up before you head back on the road.
3. Bring games — and dust off your creativity
Age-appropriate hand-held games and books can be good diversions for your children on long trips. Find audiobooks the whole family can listen to during the trip.
Recall games you played during road trips with your parents. Did you spot license plates from different states? Say a certain word when you saw an animal or certain type of car? How about a game of I Spy? Start a guessing game like 20 Questions, or use yes-or-no questions to guess a famous person one of you thinks up. Stock up on knock-knock jokes or silly riddles to keep kids engaged with you and each other.
4. Keep kids under 13 in the back seat
No matter how long your trip is, children under 13 should never sit up front, for their own safety. Car safety standards and features, like air bags, are developed and tested with adult bodies in mind. Air bags can be inflated at speeds of up to 200 to 400 mph, and because kids’ bodies are still developing, they are safest in the back seat. Additionally, most crashes impact the front of the car, and the back seat is farthest from this impact.
5. Pack healthy snacks
Make sure each child has a refillable water bottle for the journey, plus healthy snacks they enjoy, like fruit, cheese sticks or yogurt. Choose age-appropriate snacks that won't be a choking hazard, so you can focus on the road.
6. Bundle up safely
For the best protection in a car seat, your child's harness should fit snugly. A bulky coat can create extra space between the child and their harness, increasing risk of injury in a crash. To keep your child safe and warm on the ride, dress your child in a lighter jacket and place a blanket over the harness if needed.
7. Before you go: Check that they’re in the right seat
A car crash can happen anywhere, anytime — so the right car seat for your children’s age and size is always important. Any upcoming road trip can be a good reminder to double-check that they’re in the right seat for their safety — and that it’s installed correctly.
Enter your child’s age, weight and height at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat to check if they’re in the right seat. On the website you can also get installation tips and find a location near you where a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician can help you check the seat’s installation.
Enjoy your road trip with the family using these tips, and you’ll all be safer and happier. Trips like these can be memorable for all the right reasons, and you and your kids may even have fun along the way.
(BPT) - Last call for your summer road trip. Grab the family, call your friends: The Great American Road Trip still awaits. Don’t let summer fade into the sunset without a last hurrah.
According to the Auto Club, you won’t be alone: 37.5 million Americans hit the road during the Independence Day holiday this year, up 2.9 percent from 2016. And to no one’s surprise, the Auto Club says the old-school, family-type road trip and visits to national parks and theme parks remain the most popular types of vacations for families.
They say getting there is half the fun, so before you head out on a “roadie,” here are a few tips to make the trip safer and more enjoyable.
* Be flexible: It’s always wise to plan ahead, and leave a little extra time in the master schedule, especially if you’re traveling with kids. But it’s also fun to be spontaneous, so don’t plan too far ahead. Maybe you want to stop and see the world’s largest thermometer in Baker, California. Make time for the fun stuff that’s off the beaten path.
* Lost and found: There’s nothing more frustrating than being lost, especially while on vacation. Use apps like Waze and Google Maps to help you get around traffic and get to your destination.
* Must-haves: Don’t forget to bring: the cell phone charger, flashlight, batteries, bottled water/juice, first-aid kit, snacks, music and toys/games/videos for the kids.
* Clean sweep: Since your family or friends will be in your vehicle for several hours a day, be courteous and throw out the ancient Big Gulp cups, food wrappers, empty sugar packs, old gym clothes and all the junk you’ve tossed in your backseat the last few months. Besides, you’ll need to make room for all the silly souvenirs you’re going to buy along the way.
* Check, please: One thing you definitely need on a road trip is a reliable vehicle, so you’ll want to make sure yours is in excellent, road-worthy shape. Pre-check everything, from all the fluids to your tires. Especially your tires — even the spare.
“I can’t say enough about the importance of your tires, especially if you’re heading out on a family road trip,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks. “Tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touches the road and they affect everything from braking and steering to comfort and handling.”
Koplin says while it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive, it’s super important that you have the right tires to get the best handling, ride and treadwear.
For a fun summer road adventure -- and daily driving, too -- Koplin recommends a touring tire, which combines the comfort and tread life of a passenger tire with the handling and sports-like feel of a performance tire. “The Avid Ascend is a great example of a touring tire,” says Koplin, “because it offers exceptional all-season performance, remarkable treadlife and excellent fuel efficiency.”
To learn more about touring tires, Koplin says to check tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com or your tire retailer’s website for more help.
Koplin offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:
* Check tire pressure at least once a month -- this takes about five minutes. Always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual or placard on the driver’s door to determine proper tire pressure. The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold -- at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven.
* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.
* Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch, the lowest legal limit. It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 for optimal performance, especially in bad weather.
* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.USTires.org.
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