As the COVID pandemic begins to subside and Americans begin to leave their homes, caregivers, parents and guardians are returning to the carpool lines. Although children are excited to see their friends and return to school, as well as to be able to participate in their favorite activities again, there is a risk.
Coronavirus is still a threat despite ongoing vaccinations. To keep your children safe, we have created additional safety and preventative measures that you can use during carpools.
Safety of COVIDs and health
Parents cannot prevent children from coming into contact with each other in school or during contact sports. Parents can minimize risk by providing safe transportation.
Although there is no way to eliminate all risk, there are ways you can help your child and their friends remain healthy while driving.
- COVID car partitions: Consider installing COVID car partitions if you’re bringing children from outside your home. These plastic partitions can be simple and flexible, and keep everyone healthy.
- Properly clean and disinfect car surfaces daily: Throughout the day, we touch a lot of surfaces, but by regularly cleaning and disinfecting your vehicle with an EPA-approved disinfectant, you reduce the risk of harmful germs to you, your family and the other children.
- Air can be circulated by opening windows. Fresh air can remove bacteria and germs, making it healthier for everyone.
- Choose the shortest route. Although scenic routes are always appealing, it is best to take the shortest route. This will save you time and reduce your risk.
- Use masks to protect yourself from the coronavirus, other diseases that quickly spread through your vehicle’s cabin.
- Hand sanitizer is essential: Make sure to keep it handy in your car’s front and back seats. Ask your children to bring some with them when they enter and exit the car.
- Avoid sharing snacks: Purchase or pack separate snacks for each person in your vehicle to minimize cross-contamination.
- Carpool with the same people: New members to your carpool could quickly spread germs and disease from one person to another. Stick to the same group whenever possible for carpools, whether it’s for school or after-school activities.
Safe riding for children
Other risks, aside from COVID, can affect your children’s safety in a carpool. Many of us are not familiar with safe carpools as we leave our homes. Although time is the best way to get back into routine, parents can still use these helpful reminders when driving with children.
- Only adult drivers: Carpooling with adults should be done only by adults. Even though they may mean well, siblings or young drivers can unintentionally put children at unnecessary risk. They could also become distracted by cars full of noisy children.
- Do not overcrowd your car. Maintain normal capacity and decrease occupancy whenever possible to reduce distractions.
- Seatbelts for everyone: Always be sure to buckle up before you depart for your destination, and make sure all the children and passengers in your car do the same.
- Keep your speed low: This will reduce the chance of being in an accident.
- Children should not be left alone in vehicles: Minors must never be left behind. Take your child with you when you leave the car, especially in the summer heat.
- Know the driver, the plan and the driver: If your child is not driving yourself, make sure you check in with them to confirm that they are following the same safety precautions you did when driving the carpool.
- It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving. In many states, it is an offense. However, regardless of legalities, drivers should always refrain from cell phone use and other distractions while behind the wheel.
- Make sure you have emergency contacts. We cannot predict what might happen when we’re on the road or away from our homes. Even if your children are not with you, it is important to have a list of emergency contacts.
Safety and maintenance of your car
You will spend much of your time driving for a carpool, even if you are only taking a short trip. Carpool safety depends on your car being in safe and working order first and foremost. Before you go to pick up your children, here are some things you should check.
- Valid insurance and registration
- Properly inflated tires: Underinflated tires can not only cost you more in gas, but they can wear out much faster and even affect your handling and braking.
- Check your headlights/taillights before you begin the carpool run. Even though it isn’t raining, you will still need to use your headlights.
- Wiper Blades. Storms can strike quickly and without warning. Make sure to check your wiper blades regularly to make sure they are working properly and don’t need replacement. To determine if they need to be replaced, look for streaks or sounds like scraping.
- Air Conditioning: The heat of summer can make even the shortest rides feel miserable. Have your mechanic inspect your vehicle’s AC unit. This is particularly important if your children are being transported.
- Decent tire tread: The tread on your tires provide your vehicle with traction, especially during inclement weather like rain and snow. You can inspect your tires regularly and measure the treads to identify wear and tear.
- Proper fluids are also required to keep your car in good condition. To ensure that your vehicle is running smoothly, visit your mechanic or do your own inspection.
- Spare tire/jack. A flat tire can cause you and your family to be left on the sidelines of the road. But if you have a spare and a jack, it will make it much easier and faster to get you back on the road. You can find videos online and ask your mechanic for a quick tutorial on how to change tires.
Safety guidelines for each state
Beyond federal guidelines, each state has also created guidelines and plans for COVID reopening procedures. This is a list of state-by-state guidelines for school reopenings and youth sports to help you prepare.