Top tips to prepare for a safe car journey – a guest blog from First Aid for Life

Emma Hammett from First Aid For Life talks about preparing for car journeys and references important information about child and baby safety.  

Between June 2016 – June 2017 there were 27,130 people killed or seriously injured as the result of road accidents. One way that we can attempt to curb these shockingly high figures is by planning ahead and being prepared. This article acts as a guide to preparing for safe, accident free journeys.

Key things to prepare to make your journey safer:

Ensure your vehicle is always in peak condition – check the tread on the tyres, your car is clean and in great working order.

Planning – know your route, roughly how long it should take you and alternatives for known traffic hotspots. Do not rely entirely on the Sat Nav. Getting lost is stressful and that in itself, can prove dangerous.

Don’t strap in wearing a coat as your seat belt will not be as effective. This is particularly important when strapping children into car seats as they can literally slither out in their coat.

Never drive when tired and always check side effects on prescription medication for any risks that they could cause drowsiness. Take the advice seriously.

Minimise distractions – if children become fractious during a journey, stop at the first safe opportunity. Never be tempted to try and help them whilst driving. Pets should ideally be in travel cases or travel safely and comfortably in the boot of an open hatchback.

Mobile phones, Sat Nav and other technical distractions are dangerous.

Stop regularly – have planned stops on your journey and be aware of time to next service stations etc, when on the motorway.

Cyclists and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable road users and it is vitally important that everyone on a bike knows how to respond if there is an accident.

If cycling with children and teenagers, reinforce how important it is that they should never overtake lorries, buses and other large vehicles on the inside and explain the significance of vehicle blind spots.

Car seats

It is critical that children are in the most appropriate car seat for their height and weight. UK law states children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm (4ft 5in) tall, whichever comes first. But safety experts recommend you use a child car seat for all children under 150cm (4ft 11in). … The driver is legally responsible for children being in car seats while travelling.

https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/using-a-child-car-seat-or-booster-seat

You must wear a seatbelt if there is one fitted to the seat you are in. Failure to wear a seatbelt carries a £500 fine.

Preparing for different weather conditions – snow and ice / heat

Think ahead and look at the weather forecast: ensure your car has good tread on the tyres, check tyre pressure and antifreeze levels. For snow and ice; give yourself extra time to defrost the windscreens and to ensure the car is fully demisted and you have a completely clear windscreen before setting off. Always have suitable footwear and a coat in the car with you, even if you are just going a short distance as you never know what can happen. For longer journeys pack a hot drink and some snacks. For hot weather; ensure you have ample water, ensure pets do not overheat in the car, if you are in a traffic jam and your pet is in the boot of the car, ensure they are not in full sun and stop to give them water. Fit sun blinds to reduce the impact of the sun for children and pets.

Long drives

Plan your journey carefully and take regular rest breaks. If you start to feel sleepy, stop at the next safe opportunity, never try to drive through it.

Check your car is roadworthy– tyres, petrol, water, oil, wiper blades, windscreen

Prepare for the unexpected – looking at your planned route, consider your passengers and pack additional items accordingly. Thinking in particular of elderly passengers, children and pets.

Reflective clothing etc for cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and motorcyclists

Importance of helmets

Torch, water, foil blanket

First Aid for Life and onlinefirstaid.com provide this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical first aid course or do one online.

Please contact emma@firstaidforlife.org.uk , visit our website www.firstaidforlife.org.uk or call us on 02086754036.

Click here for Emma’s previous blog on choking