Whether you’re on the school run or visiting grandparents, when you’re out and about in your car with your family on board, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure you arrive safely.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen and the dark winter evenings increase the risks. “With the dark nights and mornings upon us, accident rates and sadly, fatalities increase,” explains Nick Mills, managing director of Vispack. And with 41% of primary school children driven to school every day the roads do get very busy.
That’s why it’s important to do as much as you can to keep you and your children safe in the car this winter. So we’ve teamed up with Vispack road safety packs to bring you top tips to reduce the likelihood of a break down or bump this winter and to keep you safe if it does happen.
Car seat safety
A car seat is crucial for keeping your baby safe on car journeys and it’s essential that it is fitted correctly. When it comes to choosing a car seat, there is a lot of jargon to understand and research shows that two thirds of car seats are fitted incorrectly. Find out how to choose a car seat that’s right for you, your baby and your car.
Health professionals now recommend that babies should not be left in car seats for longer than two hours, ad ideally less than one hour. This is because research suggests that sitting small babies in semi-upright positions may have serious health risks, such as restricted breathing and links to cot death. So, if you’re on a long journey take regular breaks and remove your baby from the seat. Allow them to lay flat and stretch out and kick their legs.
Before a long journey, plan your route ahead, tell someone at your destination when you expect to arrive. Check the weather forecast before you leave. If conditions prove treacherous think about whether your journey is absolutely essential.
Family car essentials kit
In case you do get stuck in a long traffic jam or break down with your children in the car, it’s a good idea to travel with an emergency essentials kit at all times. Make sure you have plenty of fresh drinking water to keep your family hydrated as well as snacks. Nuts, dried fruit and energy bars are good options to keep children going. Also, ensure you have a blanket for each of your children to wrap them up if they get cold, plus gloves, hats and boots in case you do need to leave your car. Hopefully you won’t need it but it’s also reassuring to have a first aid kit on hand.
In icy conditions multiply stopping distances by 10. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spinning and manoeuvre gently.
Cars have a harder time during the winter so make sure you have done some simple checks – oil, water, anti-freeze, windscreen washer, tyre pressures, headlights and sidelights.
In the event of an accident or breakdown, make sure you carry a high visibility vest in the front of your car, whether it’s in your glove box, footwell netting or behind the front seat – but never carry it in the boot. There are two reasons for this: if your car is hit from behind it may prevent easy access to your boot, and secondly, you’ll have to get out of the car without wearing a vest to get it out of the boot.
Getting out of your car in the event of a collision or an unforeseen circumstance puts you at immediate risk from other vehicles on the road. Wearing a visibility vest is essential and enables other road users to easily spot you.
If you do have an accident
Make sure you have a road collision form to ensure that essential details are written down at the scene of an accident. It may be useful to have personal contact details and essential medical information available to hand within the vehicle for the emergency services to refer to – it could save a life in the event of medical emergency.