How to Make Sure Your New Family is Protected When You Get Behind the Wheel
by Daniel Sherwin
While there are many things to consider when you’re a parent, it’s crucial to realize that getting behind the wheel is something to take very seriously. There are ways to keep your baby—and yourself—safe on the road. A properly maintained car and safe driving practices ensure that your family is protected as you buckle up.
General Vehicle Upkeep
The last thing on your mind with a new baby at home is probably your vehicle’s upkeep. But regular upkeep prevents equipment breakdowns and heightens your safety while on the road. A deflated tire or sludge-filled engine can cause delays or accidents, so preventative measures are crucial.
AAA notes that low tire pressure can impact your braking distance and even cause your steering to lose responsiveness. Navigating around obstacles and stopping in time becomes challenging with flat tires. But checking air pressure regularly prevents potential blowouts or loss of tread, and preserves your fuel economy. Follow your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations for PSI and inflate your tires accordingly for best—and safe—results.
Checking your oil—and changing it regularly—is another vital part of vehicle upkeep. Even if you visit a shop for oil changes, you can check your dipstick regularly to make sure levels aren’t too low.
Consumer Reports states that most automakers recommend oil changes every 7,500 miles or at least twice a year. What this means is that while you should check the dipstick frequently, you may not need to replace your oil every 3,000 miles.
Apart from oil changes, what other vehicle maintenance helps keep your family safe? Your car, truck, or SUV’s manufacturer no doubt has guidelines to follow on how often your car should be in the shop. Cars with less than 36,000 miles usually don’t need much work. Older cars, of course, will require more attentive care.
Depending on the make, model, and year of your auto, maintenance visits about every 15,000 miles are likely ideal. According to Bridgestone, regular maintenance includes checking fluid levels, rotating tires, shock and strut inspections, spark plug checks, and other measures.
Adequate Insurance Coverage
No parent wants to think about what will happen if they get into an accident. But especially with precious cargo on board, you need to explore all insurance options. You should have enough coverage to handle vehicle damage and medical expenses. Adding full-coverage insurance—if you don’t have it already—can be worth the additional cost above what you pay for basic liability insurance. When it comes to choosing a new policy, especially if you plan to compare providers (which is ideal), opt for a company with a top industry rating like Allstate, Farmers or Geico, one that gets great consumer reviews and one that meets your price needs.
What Not to Do When Driving
Because new parents are often running on less sleep than their adult counterparts, just getting behind the wheel can be hazardous to your (and your family’s) health. As Parents explains, new parents (moms especially) are statistically worse drivers than other adults and are involved in more accidents. Their expert advice includes tips like:
- Don’t handle the baby’s needs while driving. Pull over instead to manage snacks, drinks, and binkies.
- Stop speeding to make up time. You’ll only—potentially—save a few minutes of time, which isn’t worth the risk of traveling at higher speeds.
- Stop adding other distractions to your drive. Leave your cell phone in the back seat—even hands-free chatting is distracting—and don’t try to multitask with makeup, hair, or anything else.
And finally, using your baby’s car seat properly is a vital step in keeping them safe. But according to Fatherly, two-thirds of parents aren’t using their child’s safety seat correctly. Don’t be that parent—find a location to get a car seat checkup and take expert advice.
Driving presents many dangers to new families. But by following these tips, you can feel more confident and safer in your travels. After all, you need all the relaxation you can get before your child becomes a teen driving on their own.
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