New parents: four rules you need to know before driving
From car seats to route planning, new parents should think ahead before driving their newborn home from hospital.
From tots in the grip of a tantrum, tiny tears to squabbling siblings, there can be lots of distractions when you’re behind the wheel with children in the car.
But parents could be falling foul of the law without even realising. Here are the four most common mistakes.
Keep your eyes on the road
It’s only natural to want to check your baby is okay, particularly when they suddenly start crying.
Hard as it may be, it’s really important not to let yourself become distracted when you’re behind the wheel.
Take your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, and you risk drifting in to another lane or failing to notice brake lights or a hazard ahead.
It’s far better to find a safe place to park so you can attend to your child’s needs properly.
Lee Clarke, company director of driving school Pass N Go, said: “With a newborn in the backseat, drivers are tempted to turn around and check on their child, ignoring what’s ahead. Distracted driving carries a fine of £100 and three penalty points.”
Remember when you could just jump in the car without thinking about it? Add children to the mix and it’s suddenly far from straightforward.
Plan regular breaks during your journey so you can carry out a nappy change and feed your little one in comfort.
Make sure you travel with enough baby food and bottles – you may struggle to find somewhere that sells what you need while you’re on the road.
Potty training toddlers means you need to be on your guard for little accidents – plan for bathroom breaks, and make sure you carry wipes and some spare clothes for the little one, just in case.
Map your route
Anyone who has experienced being asked 40 times “are we there yet?” before they’ve left the driveway will tell you that travelling with children can be demanding.
Plot your journey carefully, so you can determine the fastest route, where you can stop off for a break and a back-up ‘Plan B’ just in case you encounter roadworks or traffic jams.
Break up really long journeys with a child-friendly stop at a playground so they can burn off some energy.
According to Finlay Clark, GM of navigation app Waze, new parents, in particular, can benefit from planning ahead.
“When new parents are driving with children for the first time they are often nervous about being stuck in traffic and need reassurance that they can find a safe place to stop in the event of an emergency,” he said.
As children get older, pack games and snacks to keep them occupied.
Don’t mess with the car seat
Fitting a child’s car seat looks simple when the sales assistant does it – but mess with it at your peril. Suddenly those buckles and straps don’t make sense, it feels loose and no amount of tugging will fix it.
A poorly fitted child seat is not safe, so it is vital you and anyone else who is likely to be travelling with your child understands how to fit it properly.
Either use the instruction manual or check out a YouTube video which will help show you how to fit it. Practice taking it out and refitting it, until you have definitely got it right.
Insurance experts Ageas have lots of tips on how to keep you and your loved ones safe on the roads. Check them out here.