The MMDA states that a total of 110,025 road accidents happened in 2017. This figure is significantly higher than the previous year, which was only at 109,322. That’s around 300 road accidents each day in 2017 and MMDA expects that the number will increase this year.
Having said that, the next question for us parents is: how do we protect our kids from possible road accidents (knock on wood)? Unfortunately, not many Filipino families understand the importance of car safety. Driving has become second nature to us and sometimes, we fail to see our bad driving habits. Small habits like immediately reaching out for your seatbelt and looking behind you before driving makes a lot of difference when we’re talking about safety. You are responsible for securing your kids during road travels and because accidents can happen out of nowhere, we have to be proactive when it comes to safety.
Remind everyone to buckle up immediately upon entering any vehicle, especially your kids. Set a good example by immediately reaching out for your seatbelt when you enter your car. Provide proper car seats and booster seats for your little kids. Even your teenagers have to be buckled up no matter how whiny they might get. Proper seat belt use is the best way to save lives and ensure safety during road travels.
Car seats and booster seats have to be age appropriate and installed properly. Make sure that the car seat isn’t too big or too small for your kid. Test your car seat if it’s snug and if the buckles are secured. Children should also be facing the rear of the car up to two years old. When a child is rear facing during an accident, the force of the crash will be distributed in the car seat shell, thereby protecting your child from fatal injuries. Moreover, a loose seat belt can also be fatal so be sure to use booster seats so your toddlers can fit perfectly.
Children should be in the back
It is against the law for any child who is 6-years-old and below to sit in front of the car. Let your kids sit in the back until they’re old enough to reach the floorboard when they sit. The back seat is also a generally safer area during car accidents.
Secure all objects inside the car
Make sure that you protect your kids from harmful projectile by securing loose objects inside the car. Avoid putting anything behind the rear seats or in the car seats. These objects can fall on your children when you brake hard. If you have the space for it, put loose objects in the trunk. Secure unused booster or car seats. Put bags and luggage on the floor and secure them. This kind of precaution can make a huge difference during accidents.
Never leave your kids alone in the car
I know it’s tempting to leave your kid inside the car to do a quick errand and having not to worry about a little human being. But you have to know that leaving your child unattended inside your car is very dangerous and could be fatal. Your child will be helpless if a stranger approaches them or hits your car. The temperature inside the car can also quickly go up and become unsafe. Take them with you or better yet leave them at home if you’re in a hurry.
Don’t use your phone while driving
We now have a law called ADDA or the Anti Distracted Driving Act which prohibits any individual to use mobile phones while driving. This relatively new law ensures that we are driving safely not just for our passengers but also for pedestrians. Drivers caught violating this could pay a hefty fine and runs the chance of their license getting revoked.
Using your phone makes you less attentive to the road and diverts your focus. If you really need to make a phone call, pull over on the side of the road and make a call or use speaker phones. Most newer model cars are now equipped with hands-free dialing to discourage mobile phone use while driving.
Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is a driving technique that prioritizes road safety over anything else. This concept has helped a lot of drivers become more proactive in protecting their families during road travels. Defensive driving basics include
- Abiding by basic traffic laws
- Coming to a full stop at stop signs
- Driving below or within the speed limit
- Staying at least three seconds behind any vehicle
- Giving way to rude and aggressive drivers
Your family’s safety should always be your top most priority while driving. While it’s easier said than done — constant practice will lead to better driving habits that your kids can pick up on as they grow older. As parents, we don’t only have a role in protecting our kids but we also have a role in molding them and raising them as someone who proactively practices road safety because their life and the lives of others depend on it.