April 05, 2019

Mama Life || 10 Tips For Safe Family Car Travel

Collaborative post 

We all try our best to keep our children safe and one place that is super important to get things right is in the car while travelling. There's constantly new laws on things like car seats, with age or weight restrictions on certain seats, rear facing, forward facing etc, so it's important to keep up to date with the best recommendations as well as what's best for your family and vehicle. We were recently sent one of the car seats for sale from Kiddies Kingdom for Soph and it got me thinking about our upcoming travel and how best to keep safe. There is so much information out there but just a few simple changes can make the world of difference. For up to date laws and advice, the gov.uk website has everything you need, but I thought I'd share a few more tips for family travel to help keep our little ones safe on the road.

10 Car Safety Tips For Families

1. Get the right seat

Sometimes our kids can look a little uncomfortable in their smaller seat and introducing them to the next version can seem like the best idea. Comfort aside, being in the safest seat is most important, so be sure to check the weight restrictions to ensure your child really is travelling in the safest seat for their size. Children vary so much and every child will move up to the next seat at different points, but moving up too early or too late can be really dangerous if an accident should happen. Also, make sure your seat if fitted correctly, with any straps falling in the right place and being secured tightly with isofix being used if your car allows it. Your child should rear face as long as possible, which may mean less leg space as they get older, but it has been proven to be safer. Booster seats should be used with a high back as long as possible, adjusting the back height to suit your child. 

2. Think about clothing

Wearing big bulky padded coats inside the seat belt can be very dangerous. With sudden breaking, the seat belt has the depth of that padding to go through, meaning your child isn't being held as securely as they need to be. When going on car journeys, children should be dressed in thin clothing to make sure they are getting the true safety and protection from their restraints. You may want to keep a blanket in the car in case they get cold or buy a special car seat wrap that allows the straps to go through it. This is for all ages, even babies in car seats will need to have padded suits or jackets removed, opting for blankets instead.

3. Get strapped in

Even on the shortest journeys, make sure everyone in the car is strapped in. Whether it's Mum, Dad, Grandad, Aunty Sheila, they all need to be strapped in and it sends a much better message to our children as they grow and eventually drive themselves. Seat belts save lives and unfortunately accidents do happen, even on the shortest journeys. 

4. Keep concentrating

As with any driving, when driving around with your family, minimise the distractions as much as possible. Don't play loud music, restrict volume or encourage head phone use if children are playing on tablets or phones, leave your own phone alone as well as anything else that may cause you to take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. Although it can be frustrating to make stops and add time onto your journey, it's always better to pull over somewhere safe or make a stop when needed than to do things while you drive.

5. Replace car seats after an accident

Even if car seats appear to look fine, after a crash there can be internal damage that makes the car seat less effective. This means that after any crash, you should always replace car seats, even if they were empty at the time. Many car insurance policies will include cover for seat replacements now too, so it's always worth remembering that when putting in any claims. It's worth remembering too that the plastics used in car seats can become brittle and unsafe after some time, so it's always worth using a newer seat or booster where possible and only buying second hand if you know where it's come from, how old it is and that it hasn't been in any accidents during it's life time.

6. Plan before you travel

A little planning goes a long way in any situation, but with travelling if you can do some thinking before you go, it can make for an easier, more enjoyable and potentially safer journey. Try and get a good idea of the route you are taking so you are less reliant on focusing on satnavs or map instructions from your passenger. Print off some activities for the kids to do on route, such as things to spot, word searches etc. There are lots of free printables online if you do a quick search and if they are occupied, they'll be less likely to get bored and distract you while you drive. Make sure things you need are close to hand, with drinks close to children, blankets at the ready, sunglasses, snacks and all that good stuff. If you're driving, try and plan some stops into your route to refuel and take the pressure off from those desperate toilet stops with kids.

7. Secure your belongings

Make sure any loose items in the car are in a suitable door or seat pocket or kept somewhere that will stop them flying or rolling around the car. Things like drinks bottles can easily roll under the drivers pedals and this can be so dangerous when driving. Keep any heavy objects to the bottom of the foot well or in the boot to ensure they can't fall and injure anyone.

8. Plan for your pet too

If you're travelling with the family dog (or any other pet!), make sure to plan for them too. Take dogs for a decent walk before getting in the car, secure them to seat belts where possible or in their own carrier. If your pet is likely to want to wander onto your lap when driving, make sure they are restrained in some way, even if it's just another passenger keeping hold of their lead. Make sure windows are closed enough to keep them safe too, as it's OK for them to get some fresh air, we need to make sure they can't escape or fall from the window too. Include stops for your pet and remember any toys or bedding that may bring them comfort as it's not just us humans that can get anxious on long journeys. It's also really important to make sure they don't get over heated in the car. Never leave them in the car unattended on hot days, always bring water and if it is a hot day, make plenty of stops to keep them refreshed and well aired on route.

9. Take kids with you

Unless you're nipping to pay for petrol or standing by the vehicle, always take children out the car with you. On hot days, being in a car with no open windows can be lethal for children, so make sure they don't over heat too and remember to take drinking water. Children are curious creatures too and if left alone they may well want to play with the keys, windows or hand break (I used to do this!) and it could be really dangerous, especially if they lock themselves in! It's also really important to be with them in case the car gets driven into and to make sure they don't wander off.

10. Check, check and check again

Before travelling, you can never check your car too much. Make sure all the basic checks on the car are completed such as having enough oil, having safe tyres etc, but also check their car seats a couple of times, make sure you have everything you need and don't take risks. It's always better to delay your trip than travel with doubts and even if you're the best driver in the world, there's lots of hopeless drivers out there that unfortunately do cause issues on the road. 

Keeping safe, reducing distractions and doing a little planning before you travel are all key to ensuring you and your family are kept safe on the road. It's always worth reading up on the latest recommendations and laws before you start and making sure your car is in the best condition for travel. Travelling and having adventures is the best thing in the world, so lets just make sure we do it safely!

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