Driver Safety and Car Maintenance Tips for New Parents

Categories Car Tips

Your priorities change in many ways once you become a parent. All of a sudden, things you’d never considered before, such as life insurance, 401Ks, and college tuition savings, become important. If you’ve always been a little lax on the subject of car maintenance, once you become a mom or dad, you begin paying more attention to things your father always warned you about, including low tire pressure, steering alignment, and regular oil changes. All of a sudden, the safety of your family supersedes everything, and keeping the family car in good condition and operating safely becomes a “must do” rather than an “I’ll get around to it.”

Scheduled Maintenance

Scheduled maintenance is one of the easiest and surest ways to keep your vehicle functioning properly and to avoid costly repair bills, a sure outcome for a car owner who’s indifferent about such things. It’s also one of the easiest ways to avoid ending up on the side of the highway with your family as trucks and cars go whizzing by at high speeds. Get to know your vehicle well by reviewing the owner’s manual. For most cars these days, oil changes every 5,000 miles is the standard along with regular checks of all fluid levels.

Your manual will let you know when each feature should be serviced. Pay close attention to instructions and don’t let maintenance slide — the safety of your family is at stake. Build a DIY space in your garage or shed so you can take care of minor maintenance needs and consider adding shelving for fluid refills and tools.


Go Easy Behind the Wheel

As a parent, remember that your daredevil driving days are behind you. Driving at moderate speeds and keeping the RPMs down will save a lot of wear and tear, not to mention a lot of money at the garage. Try to group short errands together, rather than doing them piecemeal, since most of the wear your vehicle sustains happens in the first few minutes behind the wheel.

Leave plenty of room, at least one car length per 10 mph of speed, between you and the vehicle in front when braking. It’s safer and will make the brakes, one of your car’s most fragile systems, last longer. The more you can learn about how the components of a vehicle function, the better prepared you’ll be to identify signs of trouble before they get out of control.


Drive Defensively

This simple rule of the road, one of the first things you learn in driver education, is still one of the best when it comes to driving safety. Drive defensively, and never do anything that can make it more difficult to drive and pay attention to the road, which includes talking on a smartphone, texting, taking your eyes off the road, or trying to care for a child while driving. A recent poll found that 98 percent of parents reported being preoccupied with their children while driving. It’s a tremendous risk that often results in tragedy. Also, when driving long distances, pull over for coffee or to take a short nap before venturing back out onto the highway.


Child Safety Seats

Thousands of young children are killed every year in crashes because a child safety seat was installed improperly, so have your child safety seat inspected at the local fire department or law enforcement station. Your child should fit comfortably in a seat that’s well-secured with a seat belt. Remember, infants up to 35 pounds must be secured in rear-facing seats only, and kids younger than 13 should never sit in the front seat.

Always use common sense when driving and in keeping a vehicle operating safely. Make sure every passenger wears a seatbelt, keep all sight lines clear, and look first before proceeding into an intersection. And remember: A well-maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle.

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