Six Tips for Safe, Simple and Sane Spring Break Travel
By Sarah Tilton, Britax Child Passenger Safety Advocacy Manager
Winter can feel like it lasts a lifetime. Before you know it, spring break will arrive, a time when many families plan to pack up their vehicle and venture out on road trips. To survive travel with young children, every parent should keep these car safety tips in mind to ensure a safe and fun trip for all.
- Ensure your car seat is safe. Before you begin your trip, make sure you have a safe and reliable car seat. The best car seat is one that fits your child, fits your car and that you are able to install and use properly. Many car seat companies have online safety resources to prepare families for travel. In addition, make sure your child’s car seat has superior side impact protection to minimize lateral head movement in a crash. Britax and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend keeping young children in rear-facing seats until age two, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat, to ensure the highest level of protection in an accident.
- Use your seat correctly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seven out of 10 children are not properly secured in their car seat. To ensure you’ve installed your seat correctly, attend a free car seat safety check in your area, or have a Certified Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) check your child’s seat. Be sure to bring your child with you to make certain your car seat fits properly and comfortably.
- Know current car seat laws. Even if you believe your child has outgrown car seats, be sure to do your research because each year – and each state – brings new safety laws. For instance, if you’re traveling to Disney World this year, be sure to comply with the new law in Florida that requires children under 6 years old to be restrained in car seats or booster seats. Some states, including Tennessee and North Carolina, require your child to be in a car seat until 8 years of age. Visit the Governors Highway Safety Association website to understand the new car seat laws in both your destination and travel-through states. Remembering all of these new laws may become overwhelming – in that case, follow best practices and safety precautions as advised by your car seat and vehicle manufacturer.
- Avoid driving while distracted. With all of today’s technology,it’s easy to become distracted on the road, but remember you have precious cargo in your backseat. Be sure to leave cell phones in your bag or pocket, employ the use of hands-free devices or pull over to make calls. If you are traveling with another adult, allow your passenger to handle the GPS and stereo.
- Entertain safely. Many parents are tempted to purchase hanging accessories and toys to keep children entertained during long trips. However, it’s essential that you only use car seat manufacturer-approved accessories to ensure they have been tested and certified as safe. During an accident, toys can become projectiles, so bring only soft toys like stuffed animals or cloth books. If you’re traveling with a spouse or another adult, take turns sitting in the back with your child and enjoy some one-on-one time playing a game or reading a story.
- If you’re flying, bring your car seat. If you are taking flight this spring break, remember the safest place for your child under 40 pounds is in a car seat or booster seat, not your lap. To ensure your car seat is FAA approved, look for a label on the side of the seat that states, “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” or, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” If you’re renting a car once you get to your destination, you will feel confident knowing your child is properly fitted and safe in his or her own car seat. For easy car seat transportation, many car seat companies make travel carts and travel bags.
The key to a safe and easy spring break travel is preparation. If you’ve installed the proper car seat, turned off all distractions and packed the right entertainment, your biggest source of stress will be how to answer that seventh cry of, “Are we there yet?”
Britax manufactures and markets a full line of premium car seats, strollers, baby carriers and accessories. Since its founding in Britain in 1939, the company has established itself as a trusted juvenile products brand, known for a commitment to thoughtful, innovative engineering of safe, top-quality and intuitively designed products.
In 2011 Britax acquired BOB Trailers, Inc. This addition reflects the company’s commitment to offering a full line of strollers to meet the modern family’s lifestyle needs. Britax and BOB offer versatility and a lifespan beyond one child.
Britax USA is located in Fort Mill, SC, and employs more than 200 people. For more information, visit www.britax.com.
About Sarah Tilton, Britax Child Passenger Safety Advocacy Manager:
Sarah Tilton is the Child Passenger Safety Advocacy Manger representing Britax in the western hemisphere. As an active CPS Technician (2002) and Instructor (2004), Sarah participates in child passenger safety activities at a local, state and national level. She is also a member of the NC Child Passenger Safety Training Committee, the National Child Passenger Safety Board representing the At Large population and the Chair of the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety. Sarah serves on the new product development, technical writing and marketing teams at Britax. In addition, she managed and developed the training curriculum for the Britax Consumer Services department and organized and implemented a permanent checking station at Britax during more than 13 years with the company. Sarah is active with the Safe Kids South Carolina, Safe Kids York County (SC), Safe Kids North Carolina, and Charlotte Mecklenburg (NC) coalitions.