On the road with children
In 2008, almost 23,000 children aged under 16 years were killed or injured on the UK's roads. Research also found that 1 in 10 parents stopped using child car seats when their child reached three years old.
In 2007 a Transport Research Laboratory survey showed that 3 per cent of 0-4 year-olds were not restrained in any way in the rear of cars.
Passengers are the number one distraction to drivers, especially fractious or crying children.
- Before driving off; check that the children and all passengers are securely fastened in their seats, also make sure the rear child door locks are engaged. Lock electric windows and any other electronic gadgets little fingers might find. For security and peace of mind, it is a good idea to get in the habit of locking all doors and windows when driving.
- Cars can get very hot especially in summertime. Keeping the car cool will help avoid children getting fractious. Consider using car window shades to keep the sun off children.
- If it is a hot day, make sure your children are drinking plenty of fluid. Note that some children can become hyperactive if they consume too many fizzy or sweet drinks. Chilled water is best; you should also try to avoid sugary sweets. Suitable foods are; fresh fruit, dried fruit (raisins, sultanas), unsalted crisps or biscuits but not chocolate coated for obvious reasons.
- Keep children occupied by playing their favourite CD's or eye spy games. If or when they or you get bored, suggest they use their colouring or puzzle books. Remember, boredom leads to noise and restlessness and Noise and Restlessness = Driver Distraction.
- Take plenty of rest breaks to break up the tedium of long journeys. Look for a safe grass or play area, let the kids run off some energy, fresh air will soon revitalise and remove any fractiousness.
- Never ever be tempted to leave children alone in the car. Popping into the shop or food stop while the children are asleep can seem appealing, but leaving children alone is neither safe nor advisable.
- If your children start to cry and you can't verbally console them. Don't turn round or take your eyes off the road, pull over at the earliest opportunity and stop in a well lit safe area.
- When crying and noise is all around you, it is easy to be distracted and lose your focus. Remember as a driver your first duty of care is the safety of you, your passengers and all other road users.
Sticking a "Baby on-Board" sign does not relinquish your responsibility to drive sensibly and safely. Also the sign is not designed to warn other drivers to be aware that the driver in front is about to pull their hair out because the kids are squabbling or wriggling about in the back seats.
We highly recommend that you visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust (capt) for advice on keeping your child safe. http://www.capt.org.uk/
On the Road with Children
Tips and Advice - Article No.59 RoadDriver 2010
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