Whether you’re driving across the country or just to the next state over, taking a long road trip with your kids can be a great way to bond and create lasting memories. However, before hitting the road, you should consider a few legal considerations as a parent. From ensuring everyone in the car is properly restrained to ensuring your child has the proper documentation if you’re crossing international borders, here are some legal tips to keep in mind when planning a long driving trip with your kids.
Make sure everyone in the car is properly restrained
As any parent knows, children can be a handful, especially when they’re cooped up in a car for long periods of time. But as much as we want to keep them entertained, it’s essential to ensure everyone in the car is appropriately restrained – not just for their safety, but to avoid getting pulled over and fined.
In many states, children under the age of 4 must be secured in a child safety seat. And while most parents are diligent about following this rule, some still don’t realize that it applies to them. There can be some variations in children seat laws in many states, so check the regulations in your state before you drive out to ensure your trip is child safety compliant. If planning a long driving trip with your kids, ensure everyone is properly buckled up before you hit the road.
Not only is it the law, but it could save your child’s life in an accident. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports point out that properly restrained children are less likely to be injured in a car crash than those who are not. So even if your trip is uneventful, it’s worth taking the extra time to ensure everyone is safely secured.
Don’t forget about your child’s documentation if you’re crossing international borders
If you’re planning on driving with your children to another country, you must ensure they have the proper documentation. This includes their passport, birth certificate, and any other necessary paperwork. Canada and Mexico, for example, require that all children traveling into the country have valid passports – even infants. If you’re traveling with children who are not your own, you may also need to provide proof of custody or permission from the child’s parents or guardians. For more information on what documents you’ll need for international travel, check out the State Department’s website.
Not having the proper documentation can cause delays and headaches at the border, so it’s best to be prepared. Make sure to pack these items in an easily accessible spot in your car so you can get to them quickly when you reach the border.
Be aware of state laws regarding texting and driving
As anyone receiving a text message knows, it is all too easy to become distracted while driving. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. And yet, despite the well-documented dangers, many people continue to text behind the wheel.
If you are a parent planning a long road trip with your kids, you must be aware of the laws regarding texting and driving in your state. While some states have passed laws that make it illegal to text while driving, others have not. In addition, law enforcement can be difficult even in states with a law against texting while driving.
Texting and driving is dangerous no matter who you are, but it can be perilous when you’ve got kids in the car. In addition to putting yourself and your passengers at risk, you could also be charged with child endangerment if you’re caught texting and driving in some states. To avoid legal trouble, ensure you’re familiar with the texting and driving laws in the states you’ll be traveling through before you hit the road.
Know the rules for unsupervised minors at hotels
Knowing the rules in advance when planning a trip with your kids is always a good idea. That way, you can avoid potential problems and ensure your vacation goes smoothly. One issue that you may not have considered is the question of unsupervised minors at hotels. If you’re planning to stay in hotels during your trip, you must know the policies regarding unsupervised minors.
In most cases, hotels will not allow children under 18 to stay in a room without an adult present. This is for liability reasons – the hotel doesn’t want to be responsible for children left unattended. If you’re traveling with young children, you’ll need to arrange for someone to stay in the room with them while you’re gone. This can be a family member, a friend, or a babysitter.
Of course, not all hotels have the same policy on unsupervised minors. Some may be more lenient, while others may not allow children to stay in a room without an adult.
It’s always a good idea to call ahead and ask about the policy at your hotel before you book your stay. That way, you can ensure that everything is arranged in advance and there are no surprises when you arrive.
Following these legal tips will help ensure that your road trip is safe and enjoyable for everyone involved. Happy travels!