Friday, 27 November 2015

Car safety - our cargo is too precious to forget these important points!


baby car safety

Years ago I was involved in an accident. I wasn't driving a vehicle at the time. I was a pedestrian crossing a zebra crossing, along with a friend,and we both got hit. She stepped out first and I tried to grab her. I suffered from broken ribs, but she had much more serious physical injuries. Thankfully she recovered and is now married with a child, but the experience affected me more than I realised at the time and the effects have been long lasting. 


From that day onwards I have hated driving. I do drive, mainly when I have to, and because I don't want Arthur to miss out on experiences. It was probably also a blessing in disguise that my husband didn't learn to drive until I fell pregnant, meaning I'd already had ten years of being 'the driver' in the relationship so I was forced to continue. I have never driven on a motorway alone, and I know of at least two other people who have admitted the same - this isn't uncommon!

I have come to realise that my anxiety about driving doesn't stem from an inability on my part to drive well - aside from the fact I have a terrible sense of direction and manage to get lost during even the most familiar journey - I've never had an accident and I am cautious on the road. 

My fear isn't about myself - it's about everyone else on the road. Everyone else whose driving I can't control. Everyone else who may not be so careful, so observant, so thoughtful of other road users apart from themselves...

Unfortunately I can't do much about this, but I can make sure that there are certain car safety tips I follow (and share with you so that you can also follow!) so that in the event of an accident, my vehicle is exactly how it should be to protect me, protect Arthur and protect others around me:

baby car safety

Loose objects:

Make sure there are no loose objects in the car which, upon braking, could hit you or your child. This sounds easy in theory, but in practise, is much harder with a little one on board!  I always seem to have the change bag, sippy cup, phone, satnav, CDs, house keys etc just thrown on the seat - they could be a real hazard if projected at high speed!

Airbags:

They are great for adults and older children, but if you do have a baby or a toddler in the front seat of a car, airbags can be lethal - always make sure they are deactivated. NB - children are safest travelling in the back seat. 

Seatbelts:

Apart from the obvious - ALWAYS WEAR A SEATBELT - it is really important to check your seatbelts for wear and tear so that they will protect you in the event of an accident.  Make sure babies are fitted into their car seat tightly - bulky clothing like a snow suit can make the harness less effective. Strap your baby in, tighten the harness and then cover them in a blanket afterwards. 

Tyres:

The one part of the car that is actually in contact with the road whilst you are driving - they are so important!
 A Lack of tyre safety contributes to more than 1200 road accidents, plus, driving with defective tyres can result in hefty penalties such as £2500 along with three points on the licence. 
The condition of your tyres can affect your ability to stop effectively or control your car appropriately - the difference your tyres can make to the outcome of a collision is huge - it is really important not to ignore this one.  Here is what you need to look for:

  1. Find out the correct tyre pressure for your car (usually on the  inner door) and check this every couple of week, and always before a long journey. It will also save you money as you use less fuel if your tyres have the right pressure!
  2. Look out for cuts or tears on the tyres, and make a note of any tyre that needs topping up more than the others as it may have a slow puncture.
  3. Check the tyre tread and condition - For passenger vehicles of 8 people or less this should be 1.6mm across the central 3/4 of the tread width and around its entire circumference. You can of course buy a tread depth guage, but the easiest thing to do first off is find a 20p coin and place this into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If you can still see some of the outer band of the 20p, then your wheels need to be replaced.
This check is so quick and easy, you could even go and do it  now whilst you have a spare 5 mins. ( I can wait - I'll tell you what to do next if there is a problem)...

...hopefully you have returned to find that for now, your car is safe. If you are back here and feeling a little bit worried - do not fear!  The next step is to (quickly) find and reserve some appropriate tyres for your car.

Point S has a really easy to use website where you simply enter your tyre size ( they have a diagram to help you with this if you are not sure where to find the info, or you can just input your car Reg details), choose and reserve the tyres you want online,  along with a tyre fitting appointment at a time that suits you from your nearest Point S depot. 
They have a wide variety of car tyres in all sizes, from top brands available at competitive prices, so it is worth checking now where your nearest depot is so that you can plan your tyre replacements quickly! Click here to check.


Distractions:

We all know not to use mobile phones in the car, but they aren't the only distraction. Our children are often the single biggest distraction in the car whilst driving. If things do get out of control, the safest thing to do is pull over. For babies seated in a rear facing car seat you can install a mirror which faces your baby and makes them visible when you are checking your rear view mirror. For me, this meant that I wasn't tempted to turn my head around and try to look if he was crying ( or even more worrying, not making a sound at all!) - peace of mind, as long as you don't drive and spend more time looking in the mirror than you do looking at the road!

Wipers/washers:

Make sure your wipers are in good condition and are not split or torn. Check the water level is topped up to wash your windscreen ( I always add antifreeze to mine too). If you are driving and your windscreen becomes obscured by mud, dirt or even just heavy rain - you're going to need this to be working effectively!

Lights:

We always seem to assume they work - and to be honest, once you are in the car it is often hard to tell - and impossible to tell with rear lights! If you live with someone else,  get them to help you check. If you are on your own, check the reflection by reversing up to a garage door or looking at a nearby window.

Oil:

The best time to do this is actually when your engine is warm! Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a cloth, put it back in and pull it out to see where the residue comes up to - if it is significantly below the line, or your oil is really thick and black you need to get this seen to.

baby car safety

All of the above can really help improve your chances if you find yourself in a sticky situation on the road. We can't do much about driver error, but if we all make sure our cars are as safe as they can be, it could make a huge difference to the outcome.

Would you add anything to this list? Please let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimer

Why not read some of my other posts:

Dealing with colic and reflux in babies

For all the Mummies going back to work...this one's for you

Having a baby - the things they never told me about pregnancy, labour and motherhood

The diary of a 9 month old escape artist