College Drop-off Day: Safety Tips for Parents

Tips for parents driving their child to college

Dropping off your child at college can be an exciting, scary, and sometimes stressful time. It is a defining moment for you as a parent and for your college-bound young adult.

Here are some tips for parents to ensure that move-in day goes smoothly and safely.

Preparing for the Drop-Off Drive

Before hitting the road with your wide-eyed teen, make sure you prepare for the drive to their future college campus. Here are some pointers to follow before you start the journey:

  • GPS – Unless the college campus is close by, it is a good idea to have your GPS ready to go and charged for the trip. Driving in unfamiliar places can be stressful, but having this device can ease the drive. If you are using your mobile device as a GPS, use a mount, so you can be hands-free while driving.
  • Get Enough Sleep – Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before you drive. It may be difficult to rest before such an exciting day, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, so get your z’s.
  • Eat Breakfast – Enjoy a full meal before the trip. This can save you time and money on the road, and can eliminate the desire to eat and drive at the same time, which is a common way that distracted driving accidents happen.
  • Bring a Campus Map and Directions – These tools are likely some of the most important for the move-in day, and having them can help make the transition smoother. Make sure you know where you are expected to park and drop-off items.
  • Arriving on Campus

    Once you’ve driven the many miles to your kid’s future alma mater, you may begin to notice a zoo of parents and other first-year students, scattered around the entire college campus.

    Here are some safety tips for you upon arrival:

    • Watch for Pedestrians – You are likely going to face a mass amount of pedestrians crossing the street, carrying luggage, hugging their friends and family, and aimlessly wandering. Be aware of these individuals and drive safely.
    • "Stuff" –It is very possible that you may be driving around the campus and you will notice "stuff" (e.g., bags, luggage, boxes, and the like) on sides of the road or even in the middle of the road. Be careful to avoid hitting these items.
    • Stopped Cars – Some parents may also be dropping off their young ones, and may choose to park and unload items at various points across the campus. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for these sitting cars, people opening car doors, and cars pulling out unexpectedly.

    The Drop-Off

    So you’ve managed to park and help unload your teen’s belongings in their new dorm room. As a parent, this is perhaps the most challenging moment for you. Take time to snap pictures and share the monumental day with your new college kid.

    After you say goodbye and leave the container of Clorox Wipes on their desk, it is time to head home. But before you hop behind the wheel, make sure you are prepared to drive. This can be an emotional time for you, and that’s okay. If you feel a tear coming on, let yourself experience the moment, and get all those feelings out before you hit the road. It is important that you do not drive in an emotional state.

    The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers are 10 times more likely to crash when they get behind the wheel while observably angry, sad, crying or emotionally agitated. If you are feeling these emotions, it is better to take time to let the emotions pass before you start up your engine. Or, if someone accompanied you to drop off your child and are not emotional, let them drive.

    Get Excited

    Whether this is a new experience for you, or you’ve already bid adieu to your other college kids, it can be an ever-changing time for everyone. You can make this an easier, safer, and more fluid move-in experience by being prepared and safe during this new adventure.

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration