Whatever your holiday plans, if you’re taking your family in the car there are some important safety tips that you need to be aware of.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, school holidays are a particularly dangerous time for families on the road. Increased traffic doesn’t help matters, as large numbers of families all fight to get out of traffic jams up and down the country and onto their destinations.
Holiday periods are also a time when tempers can get extremely frayed. A car full of children can be extremely distracting for the person behind the wheel. In 2015, it was estimated that distraction inside vehicles caused more than 2,900 accidents.
So what should you do to help keep your family safe in the car and on the road?
The first thing to bear in mind is that effective road safety starts even before you begin on your journey. Give yourself plenty of time to go through the checks and forward planning that will make the journey itself just a little bit easier.
Vehicles should always be checked, especially for long journeys. Make sure that you check your car’s oil and water levels, as well as the condition and pressure of your tyres.
If you have young children, make sure that everyone is properly strapped into their seats. With particularly young children this means ensuring that car seats or booster cushions are installed correctly and that the children are fully secured.
A child can often become restless, frustrated or mischievous as a result of being stuck in the back of a car on a long journey. When children are bored in this way they can easily take away a driver’s attention on the road ahead. There are, however, several useful tricks you can use to help prevent boredom from setting in.
You might find it useful to chat with your children before you set off, explaining to them the role they themselves have to play in keeping the car safe on the road. A good idea is to set up spotting games, where the children are rewarded for spotting certain road signs or other distinguishing features on your journey. If this fails to excite their interest then a few puzzle books may also come in handy! Portable or in-car DVD players with keep them occupied for some time, as will any portable games consoles, but make sure they are not used for the whole journey as you'll end up with very grumpy kids, who could also experience travel sickness if you're on winding roads.
Planning your journey and working out the route you will be taking in advance of setting off, can often save you not only time and money but also considerable stress.
If you use a sat-nav, make sure that you programme it beforehand so that you will not need to try to set it whilst driving, and you avoid having to take your eyes off the road while you do so.
Another good rule is to switch off your mobile phone during a journey. Not only is it illegal to make or receive a phone call whilst driving, but the distraction can cause accidents.
A well-planned journey will also take account of the need for ‘comfort’ breaks that benefit not only the passengers in the vehicle but are also important to help keep the driver feeling refreshed.
Do try to schedule regular leg-stretching stops and it is also worth considering making an overnight stop on a particularly long trip. Failing to do this could turn out to be not only a false economy but also a tragedy waiting to happen.
Drivers falling asleep at the wheel, even if only for a split second, are estimated to account for around a fifth of all road accidents. Taking a trip with your family should be a pleasure, not a chore or a danger.
The trick is making sure that you give yourself enough time to plan the trip thoroughly and safely. Once you do this you can start to introduce more fun elements to make the trip go quicker, yet safely. Happy travels!
Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.