What every parent must look out for when hitting the road
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 Also, getting a car seat based on your little one’s weight is as outdated as ever.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.