Parents getting back into the school drop-off routine are being told how to avoid fines by steering clear of common mistakes in the car.
Experts from Quotezone.co.uk have named seven common driving mistakes many parents make without realising how dangerous they can be.
Among the suggestions, parents are reminded to switch off their engines while waiting outside schools to reduce air and noise pollution, regularly check their car seat is fitted correctly and avoid dressing children in their coats until after school.
Helen Rolph, price comparison expert at Quotezone.co.uk, said: “Getting the car packed and everyone ready for the school run in the morning can be highly stressful, especially in September when we’re all out of routine so we’ve compiled some handy tips as a checklist before heading back to school.
“There’s so much to remember at the start of the academic year to get the children prepared for their studies, but the road is a dangerous place, and we must make time to remind ourselves of the basics, such as cleaning and refitting car seats, tidying loose objects into the boot or glove boxes and double checking child locks are in place.”
Here are Quotezone.co.uk’s top tips for parents returning to the school run:
1.Use the Right Car Seat
It’s crucial to follow the guidelines provided by car seat manufacturers and the law to ensure children are appropriately restrained. Car seats must be used for children until they’re 12 or 135cm tall. Babies under 15 months old must be placed in a rear-facing car seat. However, keeping them rear-facing as long as possible is recommended for maximum safety. Parents can choose a car seat based on their child’s height or weight. Failing to comply with these rules can result in a fine of up to £500 and points on the motorist’s licence.
2. Install Your Car Seat Properly
Parents should conduct regular checks to ensure the car seat is securely fitted. If the car seat is slightly loose, it’s an indicator that either the seat isn’t compatible with the car or it’s not installed correctly. Parents should closely follow the manufacturer’s manual on installation or get the car seat fitted professionally the first time. It’s also recommended to hoover and refit a car seat regularly to ensure it isn’t loose and food debris isn’t hindering the buckles.
3. Avoid Idling
Idling in school zones is particularly damaging because of the harmful emissions. This goes against Rule 123 of the Highway Code, which states, “You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road”.
With students returning to school as the summer holidays close, families will return to dropping off and picking up their kids, often by car. Drivers who breach the law by leaving their engines running unnecessarily risk receiving a £20 penalty notice that will double if not paid in full within 28 days. According to research conducted by Quotezone.co.uk, almost 11% of drivers fail to turn off their engines while waiting.
4. Don’t Leave Loose Items in the Car
Loose items in the car can become projectiles during a sudden manoeuvre or crash and pose a danger to passengers, especially children, as they can cause severe injuries if they hit someone. Beverages should be placed in drink holders, phones should be securely placed in a mount, and other loose items should be stored in the boot or sealed compartments and never left on the parcel shelf.
5. Don’t Let Your Children Wear Bulky Clothes in the Car Seat
Bulky clothing, such as coats, should not be worn in a car seat because they leave extra space under the harness so the child can slip through the straps during a collision. That’s because the coat adds extra bulk that can compress during a crash. Parents should dress children in thin layers instead and use a blanket or a car seat cover over the harness to keep children warm.
6. Remember to Turn on the Child Lock
Child lock should always be engaged when driving with children. Children may be curious or open the car door accidentally while moving, which can cause an accident or be seen by the police as careless driving, which may result in a hefty fine and penalty points. Child lock also comes in handy when children exit the car without realising the potential dangers around them, such as when the vehicle is parked in busy areas or near traffic.
7. Don’t Multitask
Drivers can get distracted by their children’s behaviour in the car, whether attending to their needs or trying to calm them down. However, staying focused on the road is essential to operate the vehicle safely. In such cases, it’s better to pull over and stop to take care of the children’s needs before hitting the road again.
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