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Five ways to ensure you keep your baby safe in your car

Every parent will know that their child’s safety and security is paramount, especially when they’re in the car. Despite the efforts that parents make to ensure their children are safe, there are some horrifying statistics that show that some just aren’t taking the right precautions when driving their little angels around. According to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, twelve children under the age of 10 are killed or injured as passengers in cars every day, but this can be greatly reduced with the help of our easy-to-follow advice.

The child in a safety seat near to mother.

5. Drive more slowly

This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but when you’re in a rush it’s sometimes only natural that you’ll put your foot down. No matter how soon you’ve got to be somewhere, or however late you’re running, you should always drive at a safe and legal speed. Increasing your speed might mean you arrive at your destination a few minutes earlier, but the difference between a few miles per hour can mean the difference between life and death.

Remember that the speed limit is the absolute maximum speed you can drive at, and it’s not always necessarily a safe speed to drive at, especially when conditions are challenging.

4. Invest in the right seat

You must be aware of the law that surrounds your child’s safety seat and you must also know when they need to be changed or upgraded. You’re legally required to put your child in a seat until they’re either 135cm or 12-years-old, whichever one comes first, though this is just a guideline, and often it’s safer if you keep them in one for a bit longer.

Infants must be sat in a rear-facing seat, and it’s always far safer if they’re put in the back of the car. You can have your rear-facing seat in the passenger side of the car but only if there’s no active frontal airbag.

The reason that these seats are rear-facing is because they provide greater protection for the baby’s head, neck and spine than forward-facing seats. Adult seatbelts aren’t designed for children because they don’t sit on the right parts of the body, so never just presume that it’s safe for your child to have a seatbelt on. Holding a small baby in a car crash at 30mph would be like trying to lift eight bags of cement at the same time, so make sure they’re properly strapped up, even if you’re embarking on a short journey, which is when most accidents occur.

Once a child reaches the age of nine months they can be seated in a forward-facing child seat with an integral harness; the large part of harness will help to reduce the risk of injury if the car crashes, while the bottom attachment helps prevent the child from slipping out of the seat.

Only move your child into a booster seat once they weigh between 15 – 25 kgs (33 – 55 lbs) or roughly 4 to 6 years, and a booster cushion once they weigh between 22 – 36 kgs (48 – 79 lbs) or are between 6 and 11 years.

If you have a modern car it will probably have “Isofix” mounting points for a child seat. This is a significantly better method of attaching a child seat than the vehicle’s seatbelts and should always be used where possible. You will need a compatible seat and your local Trust My Garage member will be able to help you select the right model.

You should never buy a second-hand seat for your child because it can be impossible to tell if a seat has been damaged in an accident or dropped. It’s always far safer to invest in a new one, but make sure that it fits your car before you buy it, because not all seats will fit all cars.

3. Get into certain routines

There are a number of routines that you and your child should get in the habit of following, including getting your child to exit the car on the footpath side, rather than the roadside door. It’s so important that you take your child with you whenever you leave the car, even if it’s just for a minute, because whenever your child is out of your sight there is the chance of an accident happening.

You should always keep your car keys stored safely and hidden from your children. We all know how naturally inquisitive children are and if they find a set of keys they might try and emulate you and get in the car and start it up. The best place to store them is somewhere only you can reach. You should also remove your car’s cigarette lighter, if it has one.

2. Carry out regular checks

To help reduce the risk of your car breaking down, and the inevitable problems that can cause, you should carry out regular checks on your vehicle. A simple way of remembering exactly what to check is to follow our POWER acronym, which stands for petrol, oil, water, electrics and rubber (tyres).

You don’t need to be a technician to carry out these simple checks, and once you get into the routine of doing them fortnightly you’ll start following them like clockwork.

For more information, head to our POWER blog which shows you exactly what you should be looking for. Remember, these checks might just be the difference between a safe journey and your child becoming a road accident statistic.

1. Get your car serviced at a Trust My Garage member

While these checks are vital in ensuring your car is safe for both you and your children, there’s absolutely no substitute for getting your vehicle regularly serviced at a trusted local independent garage.

Putting your car in the hands of trained professionals will help ensure problems are detected at an early stage, and will hugely reduce the chances of your car breaking down, which can cause potentially dangerous accidents.

Put you and your child in safe hands. Find a garage you can trust by entering your postcode into our online garage finder.