Many parents are concerned about the safety of their children when travelling in a car. This is often due to the fact that when they are travelling, there are unpredictable drivers around them. You can be the safest driver in the world, but it only takes one lunatic behind the wheel to cause an issue. Traveling at times that are likely to be less busy will help avoid that, if you are able. It’s not always practical and there isn’t a time of day that is entirely safe from driving idiots. There are a number of measures you can take to protect you and your family. In particular, there are quite a few things you can do to protect the children in your vehicle.
With the cold weather and icy roads during the winter period, Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, reveals five safety precautions all parents should take before setting off on a festive day out.
1. Always buckle up
Whilst this is a no brainer, a seat belt should be on before the car moves and should stay on until the engine is turned off at your destination.
If your child is under 12 years old or less than 135cm (4ft 5inches) tall, you are required to travel with them in a car seat. If you fail to follow the rules, not only do you face a penalty if you’re caught, but you’re risking the safety of your child.
One in three car seats aren’t fitted correctly, therefore fitting a child car seat properly will not only increase but can also help reduce any worries or nervousness you might have.
The law says your child must be in a rear-facing seat until they weigh more than 9kg, however, the current safety advice is to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible, or at least until they weigh 18kg.
Research shows children are five times safer being rear-facing than forward-facing because when children are rear-facing their whole back, neck and head are being supported by the seat. Once they are turned forward-facing their bodies are being restrained by a harness and their neck and head are unrestrained and unsupported.
3. Ride in the backseat
Front-impact crashes are the most common type of car crash, therefore it makes sense to keep kids in the back seat for as long as possible, ideally until a minimum of 13 years old.
The main reason for this is, the passenger-side airbags in the front are designed to protect a person with a much bigger body, and can seriously injure a small child. Therefore keeping them in the back seat will keep them away from the airbag deployment zone.
This is especially important with a rear-facing car seat, as they should not be used in the front with airbags on, as the airbag could crush the child into the seat.
4. Never share a seat belt
Buckling two children into a seat belt is not only unsafe but is illegal.Crash tests have shown that when two children ride buckled into one seat belt, in an accident their heads can knock together with potentially fatal force. Not to mention it’s not possible to have a child in the correct car seat if they are sharing.
Therefore, always make sure your children have a seat each, ideally on either side of the vehicle and not in the middle seat, as sitting in the middle is also decreasing the child’s safety if in a crash.
5. Give them distractions
During a long journey, children can become restless which can distract and put the driver at risk of crashing.
Therefore it may be ideal to give your child something to watch on a smart tablet, some music to listen to or a toy to play with before setting off.
Invest in a handy car headrest tablet holder to keep them entertained at ease, or an even smarter option is to set off when they’re due a nap!
If it does get to the point where your children are too restless and are distracting the driver, stop the car and go for a quick stretch of the legs.
Top tip: Always give yourself extra time for your journey, and never rush or speed. Safety comes first!