Driving down the dangers of car travel with toddlers

Driving with your children in the car can be extremely hazardous. They can often cause you to become distracted. Sometimes they need you to stop at the side of the road, and other times, they can start wreaking havoc in the back while you’re trying to navigate a tricky junction. It’s rare for a toddler to figure out how to undo their child seat, but I can say from experience that it is possible and when that happens it can be a nightmare trying to get anywhere. Even if they don’t figure that out, they can still slip their arms out, forcing you to stop, get out, and secure them again. So how can you improve the safety of each journey?

Ideally, you want to get from A to B without having to stop or pull over. Start by checking your vehicle is up to the challenge. The last thing you need is a breakdown or a stop to top up liquids if you can help it. Leaving your children unattended in the car while you pay is not a good idea, and it can be quite dangerous trying to keep them with you while you’ve got the bonnet open or you’re crossing the forecourt. If you can find a well-reviewed mechanic’s garage nearby, then I recommend it as a first port of call if you feel there is a problem.

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Now you know your vehicle is in good condition, it’s time to make sure you are in good driving condition too. It is so easy to get tired when you have children, even on short journeys. If you think you might be too tired to drive, put it off. A lapse in focus can result in an accident. When we’re feeling run down with a cold or flu, driving simply isn’t a good idea.

When small children have a meltdown, everyone around you knows it. All you can do is wrap them up in love, and wait patiently for it to end. However, if you’re driving along the motorway when it happens, there is nothing you can do. To avoid a meltdown, make sure you are attentive while you drive. It’s noisy up front, and small children often lack the clarity of speech to make themselves understood. Try to keep conversations simple, or maybe enjoy a few nursery rhymes together. At the moment we listen to a numbers CD which they love.

Keeping little ones entertained can be disruptive for your driving. Invest in some children’s headphones and a music player or in-car DVD player, or tablet. These are ideal for the longer journeys where you can’t stop too often. The DVDs might be educational in nature, or just plain fun for the ride. What is important is that they’re distracted from the boring part of your journey.

You can set a few challenges along the way to pass the time as well. I will often ask the children to tell me every time the see a car of a certain colour, or as we live in the countryside, a particular animal.

It can be very uncomfortable to be strapped into a child seat for prolonged periods. Plan ahead for stops at least every two hours. Sleeping can also cause discomfort. Aim for seats that are more supportive for your little one. After all, if they can sleep soundly, you can get where you need to go with little distraction. Best of all, they’ll wake up refreshed and ready for fun as you reach your destination.

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