Parents are being urged to take extra safety precautions when driving with their children, in order to avoid some common but relatively unknown mistakes in the car.
Experts from Quotezone.co.uk have named seven common driving mistakes many parents are making without realising how dangerous they can be.
It’s crucial for parents or guardians to be aware of these issues to ensure a safe and responsible driving environment for children.
One of the most significant mistakes is not restraining children properly in the car which increases the chance of serious injuries in the case of an accident.
Parents should use an appropriate car seat or seat belt for their child’s age, height, and weight and make sure it’s installed properly and is compatible with the vehicle.
According to the Highway Code, children must use a car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall, and toddlers under 15 months must be placed in a rear-facing car seat.
Failing to comply with these rules can result in a fine of up to £500 and points on licence.
Among these common driving mistakes is a very serious issue with loose items, such as bottles, heavy toys and phones, which can hit passengers with a strong force during a collision.
The Highway Code Rule 98 warns drivers to secure objects when loading a car.
If a vehicle is travelling at 55 miles per hour at the time of a collision, a 20-pound object inside the car would strike with 1,000 pounds of force.
Busy parents or caregivers are also reminded to avoid multitasking while driving and avoid driving altogether if they are too tired.
Helen Rolph, price comparison expert at Quotezone.co.uk said: “As many families look to embark on road trips this summer, it can be stressful getting everyone packed and ready to go but it’s important for parents to be aware of these risks before hitting the road, to help keep everyone safe.
“Some of the issues found during our research may not be widely known such as failure to use the child lock correctly and loose items becoming potentially lethal objects at speed, so as we head into the summer it’s an ideal time to highlight these dangers.”
Here are Quotezone.co.uk’s seven common mistakes when driving with children:
- Improper use of a car seat
It’s crucial to follow the guidelines provided by car seat manufacturers and the law, to ensure children are properly restrained. Car seats must be used for children until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall. Babies under 15 months old must be placed in a rear-facing car seat, however it’s recommended to keep them rear-facing as long as possible for maximum safety. Parents can opt for a car seat that’s based on either their child’s height or weight.
- Car seat not installed securely
Over half, 56%, of child car seats are incorrectly fitted. Parents should carry out regular checks to make sure the car seat is securely fitted. If the car seat is slightly loose then it’s an indicator that either the seat isn’t compatible with the car or it’s not properly installed. Parents should closely follow the manufacturer’s manual on installation or get the car seat fitted professionally the first time. It’s also recommended to hoover and refit a car seat regularly to make sure it isn’t loose and food debris isn’t hindering the buckles.
- Loose items in the car
Loose items in the car can become projectiles during a sudden manoeuvre or crash and can pose danger to passengers, especially children, as they can cause severe injuries if they hit someone. Beverages should be placed in drink holders, phones should be securely placed in a mount and other loose items should be stored in the trunk or sealed compartments and never left on the parcel shelf.
- Wearing bulky clothes in the car seat
Bulky clothing such as coats should not be worn in a car seat because they leave extra space under the harness, which means that during a collision the child can slip through the straps. That’s because the coat adds extra bulk that can compress during a crash. To keep children warm, parents should dress them in thin layers instead and use a blanket or a car seat cover over the harness.
- Not turning on child lock
Child lock should always be engaged when driving with children. Children may be curious or open the car door accidentally while moving which can cause an accident or be seen by the police as careless driving which may result in a hefty fine and points on licence. Child lock also comes in handy in situations where children may exit the car without realising the potential dangers around them, such as when the vehicle is parked in busy areas or near traffic.
Drivers can get distracted by their children’s behaviour in the car, whether it’s attending to their needs or trying to calm them down. However, it’s important to stay focused on the road in order to operate the vehicle safely. In such cases, it’s better to pull over and make a stop to take care of the children’s needs before hitting the road again.
- Driving when tired
Exhausted parents should never sit behind the wheel, as fatigue can negatively affect their reaction time and ability to concentrate and navigate the road safely. If feeling drowsy while on the road, it’s best to find a safe place to pull over and take a break before continuing the journey. Sharing driving responsibilities or using public transportation should be considered when fatigue becomes a concern.
Quotezone.co.uk can help families find savings on their bills and household essentials, visit www.quotezone.co.uk.