Eight tips on what you need to know about carpools from Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton
01-13-2009 (Dayton, OH) -
Do you ever wonder how safe your children really are when they carpool to school with another parent behind the wheel? If you often are concerned when your child heads off in the neighborhood carpool, you are probably not alone.
"Carpools are a way of life in our busy world," says Jessica Saunders, injury prevention coordinator at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. "Make sure you know how to select the right person to drive your child and that they are safe, licensed, insured and interested in your child's safety."
Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton suggest eight tips for starting safe carpools:
- Invite the drivers you want to involve in the carpool to a meeting (school, scouts, sports, clubs, church activities, etc).
- Prepare everyone to talk about their safety habits as well as schedules.
- Tell everyone to bring proof of insurance and a valid driver's license.
- Establish a set of rules everyone will follow. You may consider the safety checklist below.
- Insist that your child is well protected. Carpools are not for everyone. If you are uncomfortable with the level of protection afforded by someone in the carpool, speak up.
- Encourage your child to tell you if they are uncomfortable or feel unsafe in someone's car. Listen to your child!
- Agree to meet again as a group to address any concerns.
- Establish a roster with names, phone numbers and emergency contacts for each child.
In the state of Ohio, the driver is responsible for the safety of all passengers including those requiring a car or booster seat. Make sure all carpool drivers are familiar with Ohio's child passenger safety laws, including the new booster seat law.
"Remember, your child is counting on you to protect him or her," says Saunders. "Make sure your child always rides safely in your own car."
To determine if you are a protective carpool driver, follow the safety checklist:
BEFORE THE RIDE: Outside the car
- I have a valid driver's license and carry auto insurance.
- I have not been convicted of a crime against a child.
- Before I open the car door, I walk completely around my car, looking for kids, toys and pets.
- I can see each child that I will drive as they approach my car.
- Children not riding in my car are fully supervised and physically held by an adult, so I do not back over them by mistake.
- I teach my child not to play around or near cars in driveways, parking lots or the street.
DURING THE RIDE: Inside the car
- Each child will ride in a car seat, booster seat or safety belt, based on individual age, weight and height.
- Each child has his own safety belt system to hold him or her, the booster seat or car seat.
- Each child under 13 is riding in a back seat.
- Airbags have been disabled for infants and children who must ride in the front seat (front seat location is NOT recommended).
- I drive only as many occupants as there are safety belts.
- I have been taught to use the booster seats or car seats correctly for the children I transport.
- I do not start the car until every person is properly buckled.
- I do not drive children if I have had any alcohol or other drugs that impair.
- There are no weapons in my car.
AFTER THE RIDE: Around the car
- I keep the car and trunk locked, so kids cannot play in or around my car when I am not there.
- I have shown my child the "glow in the dark" emergency trunk handle inside the trunk and explained how it works in an emergency.
- I make sure that all children exit my car on the curb side.
- Once children exit my car, I wait until they are safely supervised before driving off.
- I never leave children alone in the car, even for a few minutes.
"Remember to make traveling safely a habit," says Saunders. "On every ride use a car seat or booster seat, based on your child's age, weight and height. Remember to buckle yourself every time, in every vehicle. Your child will do as you do!"
Fifty percent of children who died in 2004 in motor vehicles were completely unrestrained. Don't let your child become a statistic.
For more information on car and booster seats visit www.childrensdayton.org.
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