‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice lattes, drizzle soaked gray afternoons and watching the leaves fall from the trees to form a mushy brown pulp under your feet. It’s also a season of togetherness, family and remembering what’s really important as we wind up for the guilt-free gluttony of Thanksgiving and the spend-a-thon that is Christmas. At this time, many take their family away for a quick break to visit family, see the sights of somewhere new or just do a little leaf-peeping.
If you’re thinking of taking your family away on a road trip this fall then more power to you. There are few better ways of having complete control over your itinerary and bonding together as you take on the highway. Before you drive a single yard, though, it’s important to know your car safety.
The shocking truth
There are some terrifying statistics when it comes to child safety in cars. In 2015 (the most up-to-date records available), 666 children aged 12 and under were killed in car accidents and almost 132,000 children were were injured. Frustratingly, these unmitigated tragedies could have been prevented altogether by taking basic safety precautions.
Be clever with car seats
It’s astonishing how many cars we all see on the road in which the vehicle is carrying a small child but they don’t have an appropriate car seat. Sure these seats can be awkward and unwieldy but that’s no excuse to endanger your children’s safety. After all, child car safety is huge growth industry with new models flooding market every year with car seats becoming incrementally safer, more comfortable, more affordable and easier to install.
Government data suggests that the installation of a car seat reduces the risk of infant death by 71% child death aged 1-4 by 54%.
Rack ‘em up!
If you have limited trunk space, car roof racks are a godsend, so long as they’re properly installed and checked. It’s always worth ensuring that your supplier fits it as they’ll be beholden to professional standards, but even if you don’t install your own rack, you’re still responsible for its safe use. Be sure not to overload it and follow your manual’s instructions to ensure that everything stowed is as secure as possible.
Refrain from the frayed
Seat belts save over 15,000 lives a year in the United States alone so if you’re travelling with kids too old for a car seat, make sure that they’re buckled up whenever the vehicle is in motion.
If you’ve not checked your seat belts in a while, do so a few weeks before travelling as they can become worn and frayed over time. This may not seem to impede their function in normal driving but it can seriously damage their efficacy in a high speed collision. Worn looking seat belts should be replaced as soon as possible.
Are you wheely safe?
Wheels and tyres can also be compromised in ways that you may not see or feel so it’s always worth getting them checked by a professional. Though most of us keep an eye on our tyre treads wear, wheels can be damaged in more subtle ways. Hitting kerbs and potholes at high speeds causes imperceptible (to us) buckling in the wheels, bending them out of shape in ways that can put undue pressure on the tyre and can potentially lead to a blowout. Likewise, tyre sidewalls should also be checked for bulges, cracks and cuts in the sidewall that may also lead to a blowout.
Take a brake
Finally, if you haven’t changed your bakes within 24 months, you should invest in new pads and discs before going on your road trip. Since we drive our cars every day we’re often unaware of how spongy and unresponsive they’ve gotten until we come to getting them changed.