Back To School – 5 things you need to know about child safety on the school run

Back to school is advertised everywhere. But what isn’t advertised so highly is the safety aspect of it all, and how to make sure we still keep our little ones safe in the car at the school runs.

Every year over 2,200 under 15s are killed or seriously injured, with a further 15,000 sustaining minor injuries.
That’s 7 killed or seriously injured EVERY SINGLE DAY!
-Good Egg Safety-

5 steps to safety

1.
Make sure you are using the correct car seat!

Children might have grown over the summer – so make sure you have them weighed (with clothes on) and make sure you also try them in the seats to make sure they are still within the high limits of the car seat. Make sure you read your car seat manuals top to bottom.
Tip: The Good Egg Guide to car seats is a fast and simple way to get a view on whether or not your child is in the correct seat for their age and weight.
And please please, please! BIN the booster cushion, and use a full high back booster if the choice is between those two.

2.
Have you heard about ‘Drive a Child’?

I hadn’t either, but I decided to look into it and I can’t recommend it enough! As a parent/carer/child-minder, this is something you really want to have on your ‘mummy/daddy CV’. Drive a child is an online course that teaches you how to drive safely with children and babies. Please watch this small intro video as it explains it so much better than I can write it.

3.
Parking.

Parking is a really big problem at a lot of schools, and every year we have quite a lot of accidents either just waiting to happen, or that sadly do happen. Some schools have even set up small “children” over the parking cones to give drivers a fright as they try to press themselves into the small places to park. And it does work from what I hear… I have heard more than one parent talk about how this gave them a real fright.
But think about how frightening it would be if this ‘make believe’ child was an actual child that got caught between your car and another car? It doesn’t bear thinking about – so make sure you either arrive EARLY for pick up to make sure you have a designated parking spot to use, or park in a nearby car-park and walk the rest of the way. Or even better? Walk all in all – but I get that sometimes the school isn’t within walking distance.

4.
A correctly fitted car seat with a correctly fitted child in the seat.
Shockingly, more than 57% of us don’t fit them properly! A lot of us are in a hurry when we do a school run, and it’s so easy to not pay enough attention to how the kids are restrained in the car. Make sure you leave enough time (it takes only seconds) to make sure you check your child before you drive off. Make sure they have a correct belt path if using the adult seat belt, not to mention that they should be buckled in. And make sure that if in a harness, the harness is not twisted, is at the correct height, it’s nice and snug – and lastly, that it’s correctly placed on your child’s shoulders.

5.
Store the kids bookbags, P.E kits and backpacks safely in the car!
It’s so easy to forget that in the event of a crash, everything is thrown forward with a very large force, especially loose items in the car. They become deadly projectiles. For example; At 55 miles per hour, a 20-pound object hits with 1,000 pounds of force — so powerful that a suitcase can literally sheer the arm off you. Too detailed? Maybe… but it should make you understand the severity of the problem.

Now for those who wish to do the maths, when it comes to projectile motion, it must obey Newton’s 2nd law: force = mass x acceleration  (link to the detailed math)
This is why it’s so so important to make sure that the children’s bags etc are stored in the very back behind the seats in the boot.
In the boot?! You might ask… and yes – in the boot. The reason is because, in the event of a frontal collision, the back of the car jumps up, so things in the foot-well are thrown upwards – if anything is in the cab, it’s recommended that it is strapped down.

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Therese has completed the ‘Advanced Child Car Seat Training Course’ at TRL (Transport Research Lab) and is a CPD accredited car seat expert. She blogs about in-car safety, car seats, tips, reviews, give-aways and advice. She’s a mum on a mission to change the law and raise awareness. She is also a breast feeding advocate and gentle parenting promoter who loves cloth nappies, baby-wearing, BLW and co-sleeping/bed-sharing.