Edmunds.com: How to keep kids safe when a babysitter’s behind the wheel

For some parents, just leaving the kids with a babysitter or nanny can be a nerve-racking experience. But it can be several times more distressing when the babysitter is also responsible for chauffeuring the kids around town.

Edmunds.com, a resource for car shopping and automotive information, suggests several steps parents can take to ensure their children’s safety while they’re in the care — and cars — of others.

“First and foremost, parents should check to make sure the caretaker has a valid driver’s license and a solid driving record,” says Carroll Lachnit, Edmunds.com consumer advice editor. “Be on the lookout for reckless driving citations, cell phone tickets, excessive speeding and, of course, driving while intoxicated. And don’t discount even smaller traffic violations.

“No red flag is too small when the safety of your children is at stake,” Lachnit says.

More top tips that every parent should follow include:

  1. Checking the babysitter’s references. There’s a peace of mind that comes with knowing other parents in your community have relied on the babysitter to drive their children around.
  2. Deciding what car the babysitter will drive. It’s ideal to lend your own vehicle so you’ll be able to make sure that it is in good condition and has all of the features needed to keep your little ones safe. If that’s not an option, have a trusted mechanic check out the nanny’s car.
  3. Installing Child Safety Seats. The car that your sitter will use should have appropriate child safety seats that are properly installed for each child who needs them.
  4. Signing up the sitter for a defensive-driving class. Some nanny agencies require this already. But if you’re not going through an agency or your sitter hasn’t taken a class, your insurance agent can help you track one down or you can find a class through your local DMV.
  5. Discussing your ban on cellphone use. You might assume your sitter knows not to talk on the phone or text when driving the kids around, but don’t be so sure. A recent study by USA Today found that 50 percent of adults admit to reading and sending messages while behind the wheel.
  6. Using technology to keep tabs. Parents can install diagnostics trackers that monitor the car’s speed, location and performance. Apps and other technology can also be installed to restrict the driver’s smartphone usage while the car is in use.

Here are more tips to reinforce a parent’s peace of mind when the babysitter’s behind the wheel, as well a survival strategies for summer road trips and more advice.

By Linda DiProperzio, Edmunds.com

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