I’m sharing with you as a cautionary tale one of the scariest minutes of my life so you can easily prevent it from happening to you.
In short, I took basic safety for granted, and it almost killed my kid.
The overnight flight and connection in Paris to Malaga couldn’t have gone more smoothly. I dutifully strapped Deal Kid, 2, into his car seat in our rental car and off we went blazing down the Mediterranean highway at 70 MPH (the speed limit) on a perfect October morning. We were going West, so the best views of the sea were in the left lane. Traffic was light and the Spanish language radio was welcoming me “home” after two years of being stuck in the USA.
It was a very easy assumption to make, especially after an overnight flight with a two year old and a 30 minute wait at the rental counter in Malaga: that since I was a parent with a young child and used safety locks on the back seats, everyone did. I didn’t learn of my lapse in judgement until about 20 minutes into the drive…when his door flew completely open. As I was driving 70 miles an hour on the freeway in the left lane.
Looking back almost 8 years later, it’s funny what occurs to me:
- I remember thinking, besides “$@#$@%$%@#$%!” , “Oh, that’s what they mean by “drag”, as the car lurched to the left, almost hitting the guardrail and the drop to the Eastbound lanes below.
- If you’ve ever had to do an emergency stop from 70MPH on a freeway, you know that what’s behind you is as scary as what is in front of you.
- Seat belts are strong. REALLY strong.
- Deal Kid laughed through the whole thing like it was a ride at Sesame Place.
But the main thing that occurred to me EVERY single time I rented a car from then until about six months ago, when Deal Girl could be trusted with a door, was what I want you to remember now:
CHECK THE CHILD LOCK SETTINGS ON YOUR RENTAL CARS!