When driving, it’s a big responsibility transporting any passengers, and extra care and preparation is needed when younger children are in the car.
Are you really driving as safely as you can?
Even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can be extremely hazardous. In a few seconds you’ll have traveled several yards, and in that time the situation in front of you can change rapidly.
Are you prone to, say, looking at the radio or heating controls instead of the road? Do you tend to look back to address people in the back seat? Try to curb these tendencies. You owe it to your passengers to maintain focus.
Ensure you know the laws regarding child seats. Make sure young children are properly seated and secure. If you’re using child seats, are they still up to the job? Can you fix them securely?
Have you remembered to switch off the airbag if your child is seated in the front? Indeed, can you switch off the airbag in your model of car? If not, be careful of what size child sits in the front as an airbag going off could injure rather than protect them.
Why not re-acquaint yourself with the rules of the road? Your knowledge may be outdated, so check the Highway Code and try some of the questions asked in the driving theory test here. The materials are free to access and use and could be crucial in helping you to brush up on parts of your road knowledge that aren’t as sharp.
Tiredness and being alert
Do you drive when tired or fatigued? If so, be aware that reduced reactions can have dire consequences. It’s important to take breaks or not even drive in the first place if you think you’re not 100% alert.
Using phones and other equipment
While against the law, do you still use your mobile hand-held while driving? As in ‘distractions’ above anything that takes some or all of your attention off the road is highly dangerous to you and your young passengers.
Use a hands-free Bluetooth device if your car doesn’t have it built in. Even then, protracted and in depth phone conversations on the move are not advisable.
The same applies to adjusting music devices such as iPods or stereos.
Margins for error
While modern cars have many safety features designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents, don’t become complacent. For example, in wet conditions slow down rather than rely on your car’s anti-skid features such as stability control and anti lock brakes to get you out of trouble.
Safety equipment is there to help as a ‘back up’ but it can’t compensate for irresponsible driving.
Using sat nav
While sat navs make a big difference to finding the way in unfamiliar territory, be aware of your actions while following directions. When you’re told to turn or change lanes, don’t forget to take the usual precautions such as checking the mirror and indicating properly.
Driving yourself and young family members about is a major responsibility, and there’s much you can do to be safe. A lot is common sense, but preparation and keeping your focus on the driving plays a major part. While you must focus on seats etc, remember that the vast majority of the things you can do to ensure your child’s safety involves your own performance as a safe, responsible driver.