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Keeping Children Safe When Driving Abroad

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Keeping Children Safe When Driving Abroad

If you’re planning to travel abroad with children, it adds an extra element into your safety concerns. For most parents or guardians, having children in the car isn’t just about how to keep them entertained during long journeys, but also how to ensure they’re safe and out of danger at all times. There are a number of ways to help this and some may save their lives in a hazardous or dangerous situation.

What You Must Never Do

Driving abroad over long journeys brings with it a number of issues when you have children in the car with you. Often they will become bored and restless, but no matter how tempting it may be, never hold them in the front of the car with you, it’s something that is very dangerous. It is illegal to hold a child on your lap in most countries and in an accident you would not be able to hold onto the child.

Even if you put the child on your lap with a seatbelt around you both, this is also extremely unsafe. The child would likely be crushed by the weight of the adult should you be involved in an accident so it’s not a wise move at any stage. Never consider putting children in the back in one seatbelt either, no matter how small they are. They will be injured in an accident from colliding with each other.

Car Safety for Your Children

One of the most important safety checks you should do before setting off with children on a long journey is to have all child safety restraints, seatbelts or car chairs checked by an authorised professional. If you’re unsure where you can have them checked, speak to a local car accessories dealer as they will often fit child safety seats and restraints and will most likely be able to help you. There are some general rules that everyone travelling with children should follow:
  • Always take the time to buckle your children into the back seat. Don’t rely on them doing so themselves
  • Don’t start the car until everyone is buckled up
  • Ensure that children are aware that they’re not allowed to unbuckle their seatbelt until you say so, no matter how much they cry
  • Your car should have the correct restraints for any child travelling. Make sure the restraint is suited to the child’s size, age and weight
  • Always make sure that your children get out of the car at the side facing the pavement. This is important when travelling abroad as it will be a different side often, so they should be made aware of this
  • Many countries have laws in place about when children are allowed to travel in the front. Make yourself familiar with these if you plan to have your child in the front at any stage

Driver Distractions and Child Safety

As the driver of the car on your overseas trip, it’s essential that you take responsibility for the children in your car. This means that as well as ensuring their safety restraints are all working as they should, you should also secure any loose items in the car such as luggage. Luggage can fly around a car at a high speed in the vent of an accident and can become a dangerous missile which could seriously harm or even kill a small child. Make sure you’ve got everything secure.

You should also be careful not to become distracted by children in the rear when you’re driving. You owe it to them to be fully focused on the road ahead and so should try and plan in advance some entertainment and distractions for them during the trip. Always take lots of rest stops and if you’re travelling through a warm country, make sure there’s plenty of air in the car or adequate cover for children out of the sun.

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