Male and female with two young children packing up red car.

Child road safety

With our handy guide to road safety for children, keep your little ones safe both in and out the car.

Driving safely with children

We all want to keep young ones safe, both as a passenger and a pedestrian. There are plenty of things you can do to help keep children as safe as possible – from using the right car seat to teaching them the Green Cross Code.

When children are very young, it's all about making sure they travel safely in the car. It starts by having the most appropriate car seat for their weight and height. So, let's consider this first.

Fit an appropriate car seat

The car seat rules were updated a few years ago, making it compulsory for children to use one until they're 12 years old or 135cm in height. As the driver, it's your responsibility to make sure any children travel in an appropriate car seat. There's also a £100 fixed penalty notice for any driver who fails to follow the law.

Until a child is 15 months old, they must travel in a rear-facing seat. After this point, they can switch to a forward-facing seat. But the general advice is to keep them facing backwards for as long as possible as it’s been shown to be safer in the event of an accident.

When selecting the right seat for your child, you need to know both their weight and height.

  • Height-based seats are known as 'i-Size' seats. They need to be EU-approved, with a label showing a capital 'E' in a circle and 'R129'.
  • Weight-based seats are also regulated by the EU, with a label showing a capital 'E' in a circle and 'ECE R44'.

Before placing a rear-facing baby seat in a front seat, you need to turn off any front airbags. And make sure you follow the fitting instructions included with the seat. No child car seats should be fitted in side-facing seats.

Keep them entertained

If you find yourself with an unhappy little passenger, try some in-car entertainment to keep them distracted.

When they're older, that might be a mobile device with all their favourite apps and TV shows. But when they're still a baby, soft, hanging toys are more likely to do the trick. Or some child-friendly music in the car that they can tune into.

It might take a little bit of trial and error. But it's worth it if your child sits happily for the journey – and it means you can concentrate on the road ahead too.

Make sure your vehicle is safe and secure

Our car servicing and maintenance checklist covers everything that you need to keep on top of – plus when you might need to get more professional help.

The last thing you want is an incident on the road, particularly with children in the car. So don't forget the option of good breakdown cover. This can be included as part of your car insurance policy and will help get you moving again.

Teaching kids about road safety

As they get older, children will have to cross the road by themselves. Statistics show that nearly two in three road accidents involving children happen when they're out walking or playing. So, it's really important they understand the dangers.

When they're young, you or another adult will with them whenever they're near a road. This is a great opportunity to explain to them how to cross a road safely. The Green Cross Code is the go-to for many parents and schools (although the basic steps have been expanded in recent years). Here's the new 6-step code:

  1. Think

    Is where you're currently standing the safest place to cross? Could you move to a pelican crossing, a zebra crossing, a foot bridge or an underpass?

  2. Stop

    Stop on the pavement just back from the kerb.

  3. Look and listen

    Look both ways and listen out for traffic. And remember to look for electric vehicles that don't make any noise. If you're in a one-way street, watch out for cyclists travelling both ways.

  4. Wait

    If there is traffic coming, let it pass. If you're standing at a crossing, wait until you get the signal to walk before stepping out into the road.

  5. Look and listen again

    If the road is clear, get ready to cross. Never run across a road. Always walk in a straight line – walking diagonally will take longer.

  6. Arrive alive

    Keep looking both ways as you cross the road until you're safely on the other side. ROSPA has some handy, age-appropriate road safety videos for children aged 4-11.

Make road safety fun for little ones

You might have never considered it before, but the names of all the different crossings are child friendly – zebra, puffin and pelican. These are always the safest places to cross. So if there's one within walking distance, encourage your child to use them. You can explain how to use the different types of crossing, too.

To help your child to be seen other road users, it's a good idea to wear bright colours – particularly during the winter months. If they're out at night, any reflective clothing will help make them stand out.

Road safety is always important, no matter who you have in the car. Read more of our handy guides, which are designed to keep you safe while driving.

All information is correct at time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.

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