I wanted to write “driving safety tips for mummies and daddies” but I know daddies think they know better when it comes to driving so let’s just pretend we believe them.
Anyway, let’s talk safety! I’ve realized that I completely changed my driving style since I had my children. I’ve always loved driving and I feel I’ve always been a very confident driver but since the day we took our newborn daughter home, something in my head just told me that I had to change my Italian driving style for good. The sense of protection towards the little person who just came into our lives changed everything included the way we drive. I am now more cautious, I definitely slow down and I’ve become less hostile towards “Sunday drivers” because I always think that perhaps they carry little passengers ( I still have to work on the shouting/swearing bit, but obviously I use a different vocabulary when my kids are with me!).
So what are the five top tips you should follow while on the road? Based on my experience these are the ones I follow:
- car seat: not all car seats will fit all types of cars so choosing the best one based on the weight and height of your child is really important. Please have a look at this Gov page to read more about car seat legislation and check this very useful chart about child car seats. Remember most accidents happen in short journeys close to home so it’s really important to have your children strapped all the time even for very short journeys and make sure that the child seat is securely fitted, please check this every single time you leave for a journey (it once happened to us that we discovered that the car seat was not securely fastened!). Least but not last ensure that the child lock is always on as children will always try “for fun” to open the door while on the move.
- keep all the toys tied down or if you can just don’t bring any. Children don’t know the importance of you being totally focused while driving so it’s up to you to get all organised and make sure your children will distract you as little as possible (is there such a thing!??!) during the journey. A common distraction is when my children drop a toy on the car floor and God knows what can happen if they don’t get it back asap! I therefore stopped carrying toys in the car, especially small ones as they are the worse to look for. So instead we just make up games to play or I point at interesting things to see (like that big pink bird flying in the sky holding hands with the fluffy unicorn! – trust me they will spend half an hour looking for it and forget about anything else). If you think that you MUST bring some toys otherwise your child will easily throw a tatrum without having one, than pick big ones so you have more chance to find them and you will be able to grab them by quickly pulling over at the side of the road.
- Check your tyres. I cannot stress enough how important this is. For a while I had a faulty light on my dashboard telling me that my tyres were loosing pressure and I always over looked the importance of fixing it until I read an article about safety and tyres. Because tyres are the only part of the car touching the floor, they are in control of your steering, breaking and they absorb all bumps of the road so it is essential that they are in very good conditions. Did you know that by keeping tyres at their correct pressure you can consume less fuel and help to reduce CO2 emissions? Well I didn’t! A good habit would be checking your tyre pressures monthly and before any long trip. At the same time you should check the tyre tread depth and look for any signs of damage or irregular wear. IF you are like me and don’t have a clue about treat deph then just go to your trusted garage and ask and the experts who will be able to tell you if your tyre is still good to go. Good quality tyres are essential so try to invest in a good brand and perhaps get some help by looking at websites like Point S tyres where you can find good deals on tyre brands such as Continental, Bridgestone or Yokohama . Oh and remember that rotating your tyres can also help to get the most out of them.
- forget about your phone. It’s so easy to just leave your phone in the seat next to you and every now and again (especially in traffic) just have a look at your messages or make a quick phone call at the red traffic light but please refrain of doing so. I’m guilty of this (although never with the kids in the car) and probably don’t realise how much less aware I am about what’s happening on the road around me. Talking on the phone makes people four times more likely to crash and the chance to crash while texting is 23 times higher. If we want to be picky then even eating behind the wheel would be a threat! (ok let’s calm down now). For a while I thought to start using a phone hands-free phone while driving but then I read that this does not significantly reduce the risks of crashing based on the fact that a phone is a mental distraction and it does divide your attention between having a phone conversation at the same time as driving. So it’s a big NO NO for me now.
- leave plenty of time for your journey. I go literally bonkers every time someone makes me wait so I hate being late! I try to plan ahead every time we leave the house. I’d rather arrive a lot early than start my journey with the idea that I might be late ( a freak I know!) because that would potentially tempt me to speed.
And we are now ready to go!