Most accidents are preventable. Nobody thinks they are going to get into an accident when they put the key into the ignition and pull into the street. Most of you set out, kids in tow, fully expecting to make it safely to your destination; and in all likelihood, you probably will. But what if this mindset is putting us in danger and setting us up for disaster?
Perhaps I’m paranoid, but when I strap my kids in their car seats, a little voice in the back of my mind whispers to me, “what if.” What if THIS is the day we end up in an accident? To put it another way, I EXPECT to be in an accident. Every time.
I’m not at all worried or scared about driving, I just know that even if I’m the best driver in the world, an accident can happen because there are a lot of negligent drivers on the road. I want to make sure that I’ve taken all the preventative measures to keep my kids safe in case we are involved in one. How do I do this?
First, I make sure they are SAFE in their car seats. That means they fit in their car seat, straps and buckles are at appropriate levels on the child, and the seat is properly installed in the car. Your best friend is the car seat manual if you have questions about any of these things, and you can always get advice from your pediatrician regarding when to change car seat types. I especially want to stress making sure the straps are snug on the kids. This means no bulky coats or buntings. I blew this rule off for the longest time until I watched this video. Watch it! My blood literally ran cold when I saw it. I now put the kids in the car coatless and put blankets on top of them. Coats go on when we get to where we are going, after I get them out of the seat. Coats come back off again before buckling them back in the car. It is SUCH a pain, but I’d rather go through the trouble than risk my babies’ lives.
Second, I always use my lights and signals. Lights are important. They allow you to be seen by other drivers. This is hard to remember during the daytime, but it can prevent an accident. People’s eyes naturally focus on the cars with headlights illuminated. If your lights are not on, other drivers, for a split second or two, may not see you. That’s when accidents happen. In those split seconds. In addition to the dawn and dusk guidelines, a good rule of thumb is, if you need to use your wipers, you need to have your lights on.
Turn signals are also important. Use them. Every time. It’s not only courteous, but when everyone uses them, traffic moves smoother. Most importantly, they are for safety. Make sure other cars are making the right assumptions about you.
Lastly, defensive driving is the best way to prevent an incident. What does it mean to be a defensive driver? Mostly, it is always expecting other drivers to NOT be paying attention. In winter weather, it’s slowing down, and increasing your stopping distance. It’s using your lights, signals, and adjusting your speed to the weather conditions, erring on the side of caution.
Remember, none of your safe driving matters if your kids aren’t safe in their seats. Make sure they are. And YOU, wear your seat belt. 😉 Your life is worth it. Especially to those who call you mommy.