Vroom vroom! Most of us spend a lot of time in our vehicles. Whether you’re the family chauffeur driving your children to and from school, to soccer, band practice and to all those birthday parties, or you and your clan love to hit the road on a long distance trek the rules of the road are the same. Laws and regulations are constantly changing, so we thought we’d provide you with a quick refresher so you don’t get in trouble with the law, or even worse, an injured family member.
Car Seat Regulations: Of course always follow the guidelines for your child’s specific car seat, but here is a quick breakdown of the general rules in Ontario.
- Babies must be in a rear facing car seat until they are at least 20 pounds or 2 years old
- Children weighing 20-40 pounds can be in a forward facing or rear facing car seat (depending on the specific seats recommended use)
- Booster seats are required for children weighing 40-80 pounds, stand less than 4’9” and who are under the age of 8.
Front Seat Passengers: In most provinces and territories children can’t sit in the front seat until they are 13 years old. Once your child is old enough to sit in the front seat, you can keep them safe by moving the seat as far back as possible, and make sure they are sitting straight against the back of their seat (not leaning forward toward the dashboard changing music etc.).
Secure Items: Any loose items can become dangerous if you ever need to slam on your breaks. Make sure items are secured properly. This is especially important to remember on long trips\vacations when you typically have your vehicle stuffed. Always make sure items aren’t obstructing your view in any way as well.
Distracted Driving: The driver should never be making calls, texting, checking Facebook or anything else on our devices while driving. Distracted driving also entails eating, putting on makeup or anything else that is taking your attention off the road. Remember, your children are watching! Speaking of the kiddos, they are often responsible for distracting the driver especially if some sibling bickering takes place on a long drive. Remind them that if they are misbehaving it is unsafe because your focus isn’t entirely on driving. Try to plan ahead with activities that will keep them occupied.
Winter Driving: Make sure to clean all ice and snow off your vehicle so you have an unobstructed view. Also make sure that there is no ice or snow on your roof that could possibly slide off and hit another vehicle while you are driving. The police will issue fines for not cleaning off your vehicle properly as this is a very serious offense, there have been many people injured by ice breaking their windshields especially when vehicles are driving high speeds on the highway.
Never Alone: We might be in the middle of winter at the moment, but always remember to never leave children (or pets) alone in your vehicle. This becomes a very serious hazard in the summer. If you find yourself to be a bit of a scatter brain, always put your purse, briefcase, lunch etc. in the back seat that way you will never “forget” a sleeping baby in the back seat on your way into work.
Be Prepared: Always keep an emergency car kit and first aid kit in your vehicle. You never know when you might have car trouble or have an emergency situation. Click here to see what should be in your car safety kit.
Let’s all work together to make our roads a safer place for ourselves and our children!