At Stillman and Friedland, part of our job is to watch for accident trends and statistics. This summer we have seen that national accident rates are increasing. On the surface, it seems obvious that with lower prices at the pump, more Americans will be filling up the tank and driving to vacation destinations.
It’s true that busier roads explain a certain portion of these worrying accident statistics. However, it’s important to keep in mind that while road conditions are major factors, the human factor is a key component. We all want to arrive at our destinations safe and sound—and especially when we have our kids with us. You can eliminate many risks on the road by following the following tips.
1. Safety first: If you are a parent with kids aboard, stress the importance of buckling up and behaving. Obviously, buckling up is non-negotiable, period. Kids who act up are just as distracting as cell phones, and we all understand that to be safe the driver needs to be focusing on the road, not refereeing a free-for-all in the rear view mirror. Clearly, better behavior is safer behavior, and your kids need to understand this before you hit the road.
2. Manage moods: Help yourself and your kids by feeding them “just real food”. We cannot stress enough that giving kids sugary drinks and treats practically assures that kids will “act up” or get whiny. Check labels for hidden added sugar. Water—not soda or juice—is best. Foods that promote more relaxed behavior include greens, bananas, sugar-free and full-fat dairy products, as well as turkey, fish and chicken. All of these contain tryptophan, a natural relaxant, as well as good nutrition.
3. Teach safety at home: What tools can you use to help your children understand the importance of safe behavior? There are many online materials you can use to open this topic and stress its importance with your children. Here is one well-produced and appealing short clip that gives safety pointers to children, and will help you remind kids about safe behavior:
4. Check your equipment: Before you go anywhere with your kids, make sure your car seat or booster is size- and weight-appropriate for your child. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has a handy guide for installing and checking appropriateness of car seats and boosters. Another key tip is to register your car seat, so you are apprised of updates or recall information, in the event that there is a problem. To double-check that you have installed the seat (and the child) correctly, the NHTSA has a very useful set of videos demonstrating correct car seat use.
Stillman and Friedland wishes you a pleasant and safe end of summer and an easy start to the upcoming new school year.