What every parent must look out for when hitting the road

posted February 12, 2021 at 09:10 pm
by  Manila Standard
After a hard week of deadlines and meetings, it’s nice to get out and get away from it all with your family in tow. But when you have children, this isn’t as simple as getting everyone in the car and taking off to parts unknown.

From packing their essential foodstuff and other provisions to strapping them neatly and safely into their car seats, children have specific needs when it comes to car travel. So, here are some pointers to make sure you have a great family trip while keeping everyone safe at all times.

Choose the Right Car

Safety starts with the car. When purchasing a vehicle for family needs, pay attention to details like crash ratings and safety equipment. Just because a vehicle has a lot of space doesn’t mean it’s suitable for family use. Look for vehicles with safety ratings like the ASEAN NCAP aka the “New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asia”. Some vehicles that have scored perfect 5-star NCAP ratings include the new Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Corolla Cross, Toyota Rush, and Toyota Hiace Super Grandia.

You should also look for vehicles with multiple airbags up to the backs rows. Vehicles like the Toyota Rush come with 6 airbags across all variants, with most variants of the Toyota Vios equipped with industry-leading 7 airbags. Also look for vehicles with proper seat belts especially for the middle seat in the back row. For your little ones’ child seats, look for vehicles with ISOFIX. ISOFIX is an internationally standardised car seat fitting system. It automatically locks your car seat – or car seat base – onto two metal clips (ISOFIX fixing points) between the vehicle seat of your car. Having active safety technologies like anti-lock brakes and stability control are also a bonus.

Having standard features you’d expect every modern vehicle, especially if they add comfort and convenience to family travel, is more than just an advantage. Cupholders and pull-out trays may not seem like much, but they are key when it comes to keeping the youngins fed and hydrated while in transit.

Also, large door and trunk openings help heaps for family use, specifically for easy entry and exit and loading big items. Younger couples will be first to attest that considerable-sized openings are handy when their littles ones are sleeping and need to alight the vehicle.

Pick the Right Car Seat

Car safety doesn’t end with the car. With Republic Act 11229, a passed law which details the Special Protection Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles, car seats are now mandatory. Gone are the days that having kids at the shotgun seat is, at worst, frowned upon. Also, getting a car seat based on your little one’s weight is as outdated as ever.

A car seat with rear-facing capabilities should be put in consideration for children below 100 to 105 centimeters (which is about 3’5”). It would be prudent to get a combination stroller-carrier-seat system if you’re expecting. This allows you to safely move a securely strapped infant from stroller to car easily. Over time, once your child can hold their head upright, a more upright rear facing car seat with proper side bolsters and head protection can be used.

On the other hand, once your child hits 70 centimeters (2’4”) and upwards, you can gradually migrate to a forward facing chair and then to a booster seat. Even if they’re old enough to buckle themselves into a regular seatbelt, the shoulder strap is often dangerously high up for older children. A booster raises them up so that the shoulder strap goes correctly over their chest.

Install Child Seats Properly

Child seats need to be securely strapped down to work properly. A loose seat puts the child in danger of hitting their head or getting thrown out of their seat resulting in more serious injuries. Strap them in tight and correctly. This may leave dimples in the seat cushions, but safety is more important than aesthetics.

Take note as well that ISOFIX attachments shall soon be replaced by its i-Size counterpart. However, before you fret, this mainly means that the i-Size regulation will standardize dimensions and anchor positions of the ISOFIX. Your ISOFIX child-seat system will not become obsolete.

Drive Defensively

This should go without saying, but actively avoiding accidents is the best safety practice of all. Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you, by counting at least two seconds from when the car in front of you passes a roadside marker to when you pass it. This gives you time and space to stop in an emergency.

If the vehicle is a large one that you can’t see around, fall even further back, as they may have large blind spots.

Buckle Them Up From Start

For children, routine is a must. You have to get them used to using their car seats, even for short trips. Once you start allowing fidgety children to unbuckle themselves or ride in your lap, they’ll get used to that, and will be harder to coax into their seats when you get on the open road.

Take Rest Stops

Sitting in a car for hours at a time can be difficult for adults, let alone children. Taking a rest stop to allow them to stretch their legs and work off excess energy will help keep them quieter and more relaxed on the next leg of the journey.

Keep Them Entertained

To ensure they don’t do anything dangerous, keep your children entertained with light music or conversation. Letting them watch videos on their devices on longer trips can serve as helpful distractions. If you’re going to put them on devices for a while, time their use as to avoid motion sickness or dizziness. Be sure to pack an emergency kit for the kids in the car, with water, snacks, toys, and rudimentary first aid supplies.

Stay Cool

Keeping your family safe in the car also means allowing cooler heads to prevail. Letting road rage take over your judgement means putting your family’s safety at risk and it can happen in moments you can’t take back.

Even if you happen to be on a rush, it pays to give way to other motorists, to use your horn appropriately, and to prioritize the main goal and task at hand: getting you and your family to the destination and back safely and soundly.

Look for Active Safety Features in your Vehicle

It also helps to have a car that comes equipped with a suite of active safety features, like Toyota Safety Sense (TSS). This helps provide an important added layer of protection on top of “passive” safety features like airbags and seatbelts. Examples of useful and important features that are part of TSS include:

Keep in mind: such features are meant to keep you safe every bit of the way, but if you’re feeling tired, do not tempt the fates. It’s best to pull over at the nearest gas station, stretch your legs, and carefully assess if you are able to get behind the wheel responsibly.

Taking trips with your children requires a lot of attention to detail. Size for maximum comfort, fuel economy, sleek design, and other considerations in between are always items to take note of when picking the right car for the family. But, the same amount of import (if not more) should be placed on features that would be able to dependably preserve your family’s overall safety.

In today’s day and age, safety technology in car travel is reaching new heights and it is up to us as responsible providers to take full advantage. So, when it comes to choosing the right vehicle for the family, we must also make smart decisions. Because investing in the safety of your family means looking forward to more exciting adventures and unforgettable memories together.

Topics: Child safety , New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asia , Toyota Fortuner , Toyota Corolla Cross , Toyota Rush , Toyota Hiace Super Grandia , Special Protection Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles
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