In MD, DC & VA the laws state that children under age 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat that is appropriate for their age, weight and height. Children over age 8 must be properly secured in a vehicle seat belt. (That is more lax than best practice recommendations which suggest children ride in a booster seat until they fit safely into a vehicle seat belt and their feet touch the vehicle floor. This will vary by child and vehicle more than age.)
Car seats and booster seats save lives, there is no doubt about it. But, just having the car seat in the car is not enough. Car seats and booster seats can only save lives if they are properly installed and used.
- It is your responsibility to show the au pair how to properly use your car seats and/or booster seats.
- If you expect her to change seats to different vehicles, show her how to install them properly.
- If you do not want her to remove and re-install car seats, make that expectation clear.
- Even if the au pair has a separate car that she is the only one driving the kids in, please check the installation of the seats periodically.
- You are responsible for making sure that you understand how to buckle the children safely in their seats and be sure that they are safely buckled in every time you take them in the car with you.
- The car should not move unless everyone is buckled.
- Make it a habit to check the seats each time you put the children in to see that the seat is secure and not too loose.
- If the seat is not working properly or you cannot figure out how to get it tight, ask your host parents as soon as possible.
- If your host parents have asked you not to remove the car seat(s), please follow that rule.
- If you need to remove the seat for some reason, ask them for help putting the seat back in.
If you need help installing car seats, find a car seat inspection station near you: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm
Having a car accident is a very upsetting, stressful situation. Being prepared and knowing what to do can make things a little bit easier. Make sure you know which host parent to call in case of an accident.
Make sure you have all the necessary documents in your car glove box. Read this post on What to Keep in the Car Glove Box for a detailed list.
If you have an accident: (from Edmunds.com)
- Keep Safety First. Drivers involved in minor accidents with no serious injuries should move cars to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Leaving cars parked in the middle of the road or busy intersection can result in additional accidents and injuries. If a car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain in the cars with seatbelts fastened for everyone’s safety until help arrives. Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning triangles if possible.
- Exchange Information. After the accident, exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the driver’s name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual. Also make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color — and the exact location of the collision and how it happened. Finally, be polite but don’t tell the other drivers or the police that the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
- Photograph and Document the Accident. Use your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. If there were witnesses, try to get their contact information; they may be able to help you if the other drivers dispute your version of what happened.
What should you have in the trunk of your car in case of an emergency? I’ll give you a hint- it’s not a cat. While they are cute, they are not very helpful in a crisis. Below is a list of some more helpful things to keep in the car.
Recommended items to have in the car in case of emergency
- Cell phone car charger
- Jumper Cables (be sure you know how to use them)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Flares & Reflective triangles
- Bag of sand or kitty litter (to help if stuck in ice, snow)
- Small shovel, snow brush and ice scraper
- Extra windshield solvent
- Blankets and extra clothing
- Nonperishable food items and water (e.g.. snack bars)
- List of emergency telephone numbers on a card in the glove compartment
- Auto club card (AAA or roadside assistance)
Here is another post with a list of what to keep in the car glove box.
It is always a good idea to keep the gas tank at least half full at all times, especially in the winter.
Photo: Bart Everson
If you are like me, you probably have napkins and straws from fast food restaurants and other assorted items in your glove box in the car. It can be a nifty storage place, but it’s main purpose is to keep some important documents related to the car.
It is very important that you keep all of the necessary documents in the car glove box. These items will be necessary if you are stopped by a police officer or have an auto accident. Not having these items can result in your receiving a ticket (citation) from a police officer.
*Some host parents may tell you to carry these in your wallet instead of keeping them in the car. Follow their instructions.
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Vehicle Owner’s Manual
- Map or GPS
- Tissues and Hand Sanitizer
- First Aid Kit
In Your Wallet
Carry your Maryland license or country driver’s license and international driver’s permit with you at all times, especially when you are driving. You should leave your passport and Social Security Card and other documents at home, to reduce the risk of losing them.