Families warned over these 7 common driving mistakes when travelling with kids in the car that could prove fatal

How many are you guilty of? Here's how to drive safely with your kids this summer...

Dad getting kids into car seats in back of car
(Image credit: Getty)

Families are being warned over making these seven common driving mistakes when travelling with kids in the car that could prove fatal.

Whilst buying the best car seats for babies like the new Maxi Cosi car seats or Cybex Cloud Z, and adhering to car seat rules, many drivers travelling with children over the summer holidays are expected to overlook some issues that are equally as dangerous when it comes to road safety.

Whether you're jetting off to sunnier climes or opting for a glorious staycation - you're bound to be travelling in a car in order to get there. 

But there are seven common mistakes people are making that could prove costly for their families, and experts from Quotezone.co.uk have listed the driving mistakes that many drivers are making without realising how dangerous they can be.

Helen Rolph, price comparison expert at Quotezone, said, “As many families look to embark on road trips this summer, it can be stressful getting everyone packed and ready to go but it’s important for parents to be aware of these risks before hitting the road, to help keep everyone safe.

“Some of the issues found during our research may not be widely known such as failure to use the child lock correctly and loose items becoming potentially lethal objects at speed, so as we head into the summer it’s an ideal time to highlight these dangers.”

1. Improper use of a car seat

When it comes to car seat rules it's crucial to follow the guidelines provided by car seat manufacturers and the law, to ensure children are properly restrained but many drivers can get confused with what's required, or from cutting corners when it comes to car seat use. It is important to familiarise yourself with the regulations to avoid any nasty accidents or fines. 

According to the Highway Code, car seats must be used for children until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall. Babies under 15 months old must be placed in a rear-facing car seat, however it’s recommended to keep them rear-facing as long as possible for maximum safety. Parents can opt for a car seat that’s based on either their child’s height or weight. Failing to comply with these rules can result in a fine of up to £500 and points on licence.

Child in rear facing car seat

(Image credit: Getty)

2. Car seat not installed securely

So you've got the car seat installed, but that should not be the end of your worries - as more than half, 56%, of child car seats are incorrectly fitted. Parents are urged to carry out regular checks to make sure the car seat is securely fitted. If the car seat is slightly loose then it’s an indicator that either the seat isn’t compatible with the car or it’s not properly installed. 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 make sure it isn’t loose and food debris isn’t hindering the buckles.

3. Loose items in the car

We've all got more things in the car than we really need, whether it's games to keep kids busy on long journeys or drinks and snack supplies for those hunger pangs. But loose items in the car can become projectiles during a sudden manoeuvre or crash and can pose danger to passengers, especially children, as they can cause severe injuries if they hit someone. 

The Highway Code Rule 98 warns drivers to secure objects when loading a car. If a vehicle is travelling at 55 miles per hour at the time of a collision, a 20-pound object inside the car would strike with 1,000 pounds of force.

As a result, before heading out onto the road, ensure beverages are placed in drink holders, phones 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.

coffee in car drinks holder and donut on a napkin near gear stick

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Wearing bulky clothes in the car seat

Extra care should be taken when strapping a child into a car seat - not only does the car seat have to be fitted correctly but bulky clothing such as coats should not be worn in a car seat because they leave extra space under the harness, which means that during a collision the child can slip through the straps. The coat adds extra bulk and it can compress during a crash, creating extra space between the child and the restraints. To keep children warm, parents are advised to dress them in thin layers instead and use a blanket or a car seat cover over the harness.

baby in car seat covered in a blanket

(Image credit: Getty)

5. Not turning on child lock

Not turning a child lock on before setting off with children in the car can be extremely dangerous. 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 points on licence. Child lock also comes in handy in situations where children may exit the car without realising the potential dangers around them, such as when the vehicle is parked in busy areas or near traffic.

child grabbing car handle inside car

(Image credit: Getty)

6. Multitasking

Drivers can too easily get distracted by their children's behaviour in the car, whether it’s attending to their needs or trying to calm them down. However, it's important to stay focused on the road in order to operate the vehicle safely. In such cases, it’s better to pull over and make a stop to take care of the children’s needs before hitting the road again.

7. Driving when tired

Exhausted parents should never sit behind the wheel, as fatigue can negatively affect their reaction time and ability to concentrate and navigate the road safely. If feeling drowsy while on the road, it's best to find a safe place to pull over and take a break before continuing the journey. Sharing driving responsibilities or using public transportation should be considered when fatigue becomes a concern.

You could pick up some great Prime Day Baby deals on goodto.com ahead of the event.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)