• Always buckle up. Parents are responsible for all passengers on board, including their carpooling guests. Be sure your guest riders are buckling up, and wearing their seat belts properly. For more information on seat belt safety, check out the Safe Kids website.
• Make a schedule, make a plan. Whatever your carpooling needs, discuss your schedule upfront with all parents involved so their isn’t confusion who goes where, and who picks up who on each day. This can get tricky but if there is clear communication right away, parents will know what their responsibilities are and where each child needs to go. Having a printed schedule for the carpool is always a safe bet.
• Equip all children with the proper seat. Before you pick up the first child for the carpool, be sure you and the other parents have prepared a schedule for each child and what he/she needs for a safety seat. If your traveling guest needs a booster seat, do you have a spare or is the family providing one for the trip? These plans should be worked out before the very first ride so everyone is ready to go on time!
• Have all the “extras” on hand. Check in with each parent about safety and medical concerns their children have. Share with other parents your children’s needs as well. If you have a child on your carpooling schedule that has allergies, make sure you are carrying the proper medications and know how to use them in case of an emergency. It’s always best to be prepared for the worst case scenario!
• Keep toys in the car. For travels that get a little long, having non-distracting toys in the backseat is not a bad idea to keep your kiddos inline and occupied for the drive. Puppets, handheld games, dolls and action figures are all safe bets for the car that won’t make a mess.
• Have all parents’ contact information at your fingertips. Compile a list of people, addresses, phone numbers and backup phone numbers for each carpooling family. Keep the list in your vehicle so you can easily add an address to your GPS or dial a phone number. Also, make sure all contacts are in your cell in case you need to get a hold of someone fast.
• Model safe behavior for the little ones. Backseat riders are tuning in on mom and dad during the travel, so make sure you are practicing safe behaviors while driving. Avoid texting and taking phone calls while driving and insert addresses in your GPS before you take off. Playing loud, fun music is entertaining for the kids, but don’t overdo it. Teaching children safe driving practices will only begin to prepare them for safe, smart driving when they reach their teenage years.
Grainne Kelly is a Safe Kids USA certified CPST, travel expert, and the inventor of BubbleBum, the first ever inflatable booster seat, which has made travel with kids easier and safer than ever! It’s the perfect solution for daily carpooling, car rides, fly-ins with car rentals, cab and Uber/Lyft rides. Weighing in at less than one pound, BubbleBum can deflate in minutes making it simple to throw in a backpack or large purse. BubbleBum includes belt positioning clips in place of arm rests, so it’s possible to fit three boosters across the back seat of a car, minivan or SUV. http://www.bubblebum.co/us/