Happy Trails - Loving Memories

In Loving Memory

Devaree Cindra Johnson
6/30/87 - 7/4/92

Soo-Z Garnett
6/10/59 - 11/14/94

I wonder if anybody else has noticed how many homeschoolers are involved in auto accidents. Maybe itís just in our area, but our homeschooling community has suffered terribly on the highways. In addition to the usual fender benders, we have seen permanent disabilities and even the tragic loss of lives. My theory is that we are on the road with our families more than most people because we arenít at school or on the job. Being adventure oriented, my family certainly is on the road a lot.

I thought it might be appropriate to pause and reflect on some safety reminders and ideas for saner road trips, and to share some of the things I have learned.

1. There is a reason for seatbelts. Make wearing them a habit. Check the infant seat regularly to be sure it is installed right. Keep seatbelts on until the vehicle is stopped. No exceptions.

2. Keep your rear view mirror up so you can watch traffic, not kids. You are the driver of precious cargo. Act like it.

3. Donít pull over on shoulders and stop your vehicle. Wait for an exit or side road. If you have to stop on the interstate because the car (not kids) blew up, get off as far as possible. WAY off.

4. If things get really tense with the kids and you feel like you are about to explode, find a safe place to stop. Take a deep breath, and decide if where you are going is worth it. Redirect the energy. If necessary, find a park and forget the field trip. Scheduling too much is often stressful.

5. Drive defensively. Keep your eyes moving. Be on the lookout for swerving cars and stay away from them. Allow extra distance between you and the cars in front of you. I sometimes talk about whatís happening on the road, hoping my kids can learn early that driving requires focus and concentration. None of them is near the driverís license age, but they are learning the rules of the road.

6. For long trips, check out the local library for really long story tapes. Pippi Longstocking is long, fun for kids and adults, and can pass a lot of time. Your public library should have a lot to choose from. Get something unfamiliar to the kids.

7. Keep a supply of paper, pencils, books, games and other items available. Hopefully, each kid can pack their own bag of items they want to take.

8. Keep a case of bottled water and crackers in the trunk. This saves a lot of time and money when kids become unexpectedly thirsty or hungry.

9. Donít double up seatbelts. Re-think how many kids you are hauling. Sometimes changing seating arrangements is necessary to calm a crazy trip down. I have noticed a direct relationship between the number of extra kids and the amount of chaos. We all want our kids to socialize but do we have to do that in the car?

10. Be nice. If you see another driver do something really stupid, help them out...let them go first. Rise above it.

11. Take advantage of Visitors Centers. They are helpful, friendly, free and have lots of ideas.

12. Think about the weather. Listen to the radio. Is the trip worth it? Do you really have to go? Risk taking in cars can be hazardous to your health.

13. If you are tired, stop and rest.

14. Donít drive when you are seriously upset. These distractions have caused fatal accidents. Please have enough awareness of your emotional state to get help when you need it. Use your resources by foot, bike, phone, e-mail, pencil, or cab.

15. Keep your car well maintained. Walk around the vehicle and do a visual inspection before you go. Check your fluid levels and tires. Better safe than sorry.

16. Watch out on those curvy back roads. Most accidents happen close to home.

Mary Wilson...
Email: mary@trailz.org
Art by Devaree Johnson courtesy of her parents, Karen and Harry.

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