Question: What is potentially dangerous (possibly even life threatening) and something your child does pretty much every day of their life?
Answer: Be a passenger in a car.
Whether you drive or entrust this responsibility to another family member, nanny, au-pair or child-carer the harsh facts remain the same:
Every year in the UK, around 18,000 under 15 year olds are involved in road crashes. Last year just over 2,200 were killed or seriously injured. 95% of all crashes are contributed to, not by how technically well a car is driven, but by our human factors. So it’s things like distraction, mood, anxiety, fatigue, a lack of planning or concentration that put a usually competent and careful driver (and their passengers) in danger.
Recent research has highlighted that children are 12 times more likely to be a distraction to drivers than using a mobile phone at the wheel (and we all know how lethal that can be). Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 70% of us don’t fit a car seat correctly.
So how can we minimise the danger for children in cars?
In short, being fully prepared for a journey and seeking out useful education which will help more than just technical driving ability could make all the difference. Parental Choice is working with driver education specialist Nanny Drive iQ. Their CEO, Sarah Rowley gives her tips for getting you and your little ones safely form A to B.
ALWAYS HAVE A BACK UP PLAN
You can start enhancing the safety of everyone in a car before they even get in it by simple journey planning. How you get somewhere and having an alternative is always wise, especially for a long journey or if you are going somewhere you haven’t been before. Even consider journeys you do all the time, as they may differ from day to day.
For example – Think of how you have felt before when the road you are expecting to go down is closed. Suddenly you need to work out in your head or enter something into your sat nav very quickly (and whilst driving) to ensure you don’t drive miles out of your way to get where you need to go. You therefore are instantly distracted, anxious and will make mistakes.
Unfolding drama whilst driving is extremely distracting and dangerous, so take a few moments to read the handbook from your car and prepare what you do if a warning light came on, or if you broke down, got a flat tyre/blowout etc.
BE A GREAT ROLE MODEL
In their early years, a child absorbs a huge amount of information that may in turn affect their own behaviour. Therefore, it is vital that anyone who drives a child should, actively and effectively inspire them to be safe and respectful road users of the future.
If young passengers are exposed to speeding, lack of consideration for other road users, aggressive driving etc. research shows that as they become drivers themselves, their driving attitude and style will have been massively influenced by the actions of those who had driven them whilst growing up.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT TODAY?
Each journey is different. Many factors have an influence. You can’t control them all, but you can be really prepared for most of them. Just being aware of a situation often means you can alter your behaviour and in turn make a positive difference.
The weather plays a big part, not only because it can change the road, but also your visibility, so whatever the weather, bright sun (e.g. sunglasses for you, window shades for the children), fog, rain, ice, snow etc you need to be aware how to adapt so nothing catches you out.
Think about these situations and how they might make a difference to your driving…
- You are late or trying to keep up with someone you are following.
- Your mood – Are you stressed? Anxious? Excited? Emotional?
- You were out late last night.
- You are feeling really tired.
- The children are distracting you.
- You find yourself daydreaming while driving.
- There is something loose rolling around in the car / a warning light has just come on and you have no idea what it means.
- Someone tailgating you and driving aggressively and making you feel uncomfortable.
- Your young passenger is screaming and you don’t know why.
DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION!
A recent study showed that in a 16 minute journey with children, the average driver took their eyes off the road for a staggering 3 minutes and 22 seconds in total!
Distraction plays a huge part in crashes and its not just about taking your eyes off the road. Your mental concentration is key too. The ability to keep calm and focused is essential to safe driving. Have things lined up to keep your passengers occupied. This means you can concentrate on the main task in hand – your driving.
Nanny Drive iQ provides a true insight into a driver’s attitude and knowledge via its online assessment. It also goes on to provide thorough and effective remedial e-learning to teach vital skills and coping strategies to ensure someone driving children is fully informed and prepared for just about anything when out on the road.
Nanny Drive iQ is only £49.50 for Parental Choice families/candidates, when they enter discount code pchoice13 (case sensitive) at www.nannydriveiq.com