Traveling to see family or take a weekend vacation can be a challenge with young children in the car.
Parents need to ensure children’s safety and keep them from becoming a distraction to the driver.
Undersheriff David Huntley reminds parents that children under 1 should be in a rear-facing car seat and children under 4 should be in a rear-facing seat as long as they can still fit into it.
“A child above 4 and under 8 must ride in a booster seat unless they weigh 80 pounds and are taller than 4’9” and traveling in a vehicle with only a lap belt available, Huntley said. “Children 8 to 14 must wear a seat belt whenever the vehicle is in motion.”
Huntley said he was lucky when his children were small because they slept most of the time they were in the car.
Many parents nowadays use electronic devices to entertain little ones, Huntley said.
Huntley advises against texting in the car, even for the children.
“Pay full attention to the driving habits,” Huntley said.
Other tips for keeping kids safe in the car include driving defensively and allowing plenty of time to get to destinations, Huntley said.
Garie Brownrigg, director of Marion County’s Head Start program, offered tips for traveling with young children in tow, the first of which is to pay attention to timing.
“I planned my travel around naptime if the trip allowed for that,” Brownrigg said.
For any trip, take along snacks and drinks as well as things to keep them entertained.
“Have things for them to do, books to read, activities to keep them from getting bored,” Brownrigg said.
Portable technology offers educational entertainment, she said. Other activities also can be used for educational fun.
“You can have a scavenger hunt, looking for things along the way,” she said. “You can look for colors or animals. I always tried to do something educational so they’re learning, like different colors.”
Children can watch movies during the ride.
“If you can find things to do to entertain them, that makes the drive a lot nicer,” she said. “You don’t want to put them in the back seat and forget about them, you want them to be engaged.”