This week’s driving tips from the IAM’s head of driving standards, Peter Rodger, are looking at how parents can cope with travelling with children on long journeys. With our advice here’s how you can ensure your journey is a lot less stressful.
- If you’re travelling with children under the age of three years you must use a child restraint. And any children three years and above must be placed in a booster seat, safely secured with a seatbelt. Make sure you make the appropriate adjustments before you start your journey. And if you’re using a child restraint check whether it needs to be front facing or rear facing beforehand.
- Avoid placing large and heavy objects or luggage on the rear seat where your children will be seated. Allow them plenty of space without making them feel claustrophobic.
- Make sure you have packed important items for your journey including a fully charged mobile phone, first aid kit, water, blanket and high-visibility jackets – you may need these items if your vehicle breaks down and you are waiting for help to arrive.
- Think about what games your children can take with them on long journeys to keep them occupied. If they will be using a portable device or in-car DVD player make sure they have headphones plugged in so the sound doesn’t distract you.
- The longer you’re on the road the higher the likelihood your children could become irritable. Plan to take regular rest breaks at least every two hours so you can rest and they can release some energy.
- If you can, travel with another adult passenger who can keep an eye on the youngsters. This will allow you to fully concentrate on the road and prevent them distracting you.
- Never turn around to deal with fighting youngsters while you are driving. Always find a safe place to stop first. Don’t continue your journey with children fighting in the back – it may affect your behaviour behind the wheel.
Peter said: “As a form of distraction children in the car has to rate as one of the greatest. However, a driver’s duty is to the road and other road users first – and the children second. Any problem the children have can be dealt with when the car is stationary, and should never be dealt with on the move. Easier said than done, but it is the only way.”