Safety advice for car drivers and passengers

Ok so you’re the one in the driving seat, but you don’t have to scare your passengers by getting so close to parked cars that you’re almost clipping their wing mirrors, going at high speeds in built-up areas, then braking suddenly or not slowing down enough for manoeuvres. If passengers feel confident about your driving they’ll be less likely to interfere too…

Passenger safety advice

There are some general areas you need to consider to ensure everyone in the car is secure. First off, check that there are enough seatbelts for all your passengers – and don’t be fooled into thinking that not wearing a rear seat belt is okay. In a collision, this could lead to the serious injury or death of both the person in the back and the passenger in front – or you.

You should never modify an adult seatbelt to make it fit a child – you need the appropriate child seat (see below). Children under the age of 12 should be in the back seat – the front is very dangerous for youngsters. For instance, the release of a front air bag could seriously injure a child. Their low boredom threshold and boundless energy can make car journeys a nightmare for children – and you too. Keep a stock of games and toys in the back to keep them amused.

There has been lots of media coverage about deep vein thrombosis or ‘DVT’ (blood clots forming in legs) on long haul flights but did you know that passengers are also at risk on car journeys that are over four hours long? Reduce the risk for your passengers, by having regular stops and reminding passengers not to stay in the same position for too long.

What the law says about child seats

You are legally required to use the following safety restraints for children:

  • aged 0-12 months, rear-facing baby seat;
  • aged 1-4 years, child seat;
  • aged 4-12 years, booster seat;
  • older children who are over 135cms tall are allowed to use a booster cushion instead.

Children over that height can wear an adult seat belt. And remember, it is your responsibility as the driver to ensure that any child passengers under the age of 14 wear a seat belt. If your older teenager is acting up you could remind them that you aren’t legally responsible any more – they are!

What makes a good passenger

Resist the temptation to be a back-seat driver, as well as being very off-putting for the driver it could be dangerous too. So keep your comments to yourself and never grab the steering wheel.

Don’t criticise the driver about their driving or about anything else for that matter. You want them to be calm and collected enough to focus on the road ahead, not you.

Finally, make yourself useful. Map read, switch radio channels or CDs, and if the car insurance covers you and you’re on a long road trip you could offer to take over the driving if the driver gets tired.

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