Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest safety measures you and your passengers can take, and it could save your life, by stopping you from being thrown out of or around the vehicle in a crash. Wearing a three-point seat belt halves your risk of death in a crash.
Everyone should always wear a seat belt, even on short journeys. People are less likely to belt up for short or familiar routes, but even if you’ve made a journey a thousand times before, or you’re just driving around the corner, it could still be a life-saver, and it’s still the law.
Before setting off, make sure you and your passengers, including your pets are belted up and secure. Seat belt use is lower among back seat passengers, but this is incredibly dangerous for that person and other people in the vehicle. An unrestrained back seat passenger can kill someone else in the vehicle, and themselves, by slamming into someone else’s head in a crash.
This could happen to you, it happens every day!
- How often you see pets in-secure in the back of cars?
- Children messing around in the back of your car?
- In-secure loads, chuck your computer bag, or shopping in the back seat
Think about it!
Not only are we breaking the law, you are also invalidating your vehicle insurance.
We will be covering transporting pets safely shortly in our blog, we also have been asked to run courses about this subject.
Make sure you have enough three-point seat belts for everyone travelling in your vehicle. Never squeeze extra people in without belts, or sharing the same belt – which can be as dangerous as not wearing one.
Three-point belts are far safer than lap belts, because the shoulder strap on a three-point belt stops your body being flung forward in a crash, which can result in horrific injuries. If you drive or a passenger in an older vehicle with a lap belt in a particular seat, don’t use that seat, remember we only have one life.!
Head restraints should be adjusted so the top is about level with the top of your head and right up against the back of your head, so your head won’t be able to fly backwards if you’re in a crash. If a head restraint is missing, wobbly, or too low, it won’t protect your neck from potentially debilitating whiplash injuries.
Drivers are legally responsible for ensuring child passengers are belted up and in a restraint compliant with the law. Children up to 150 cm tall should be secured in a child restraint suitable for their height and weight. If they are not, they are at far greater risk of serious injury or death in a crash. If a child is able to do up his or her own seat belt, you still have the responsibility for checking the child has done it correctly, and the seatbelt is tight. Explain to children they mustn’t fiddle with or undo seat belts, and the reasons why.
A properly fitted child restraint could save your child’s life.
Following the advice below will help to keep children safe in the car:
- Use the appropriate child restraint for their size and weight for children under 150 cm tall.
- But the best seat on the market with the most safety features. Restraints should carry the United Nations ‘E’ mark or ‘BS’
- Never use a second-hand restraint; it could be damaged in ways you can’t see.
- Rear-facing seats are safer for babies. Do not move them up to their next restraint system until they are too tall or heavy for their rear-facing baby seat.
- If it’s possible to do so in line with the fitting instructions, fit your child seat in the middle of the rear of your car, furthest away from the exterior.
- Fit your child restraint with care in line with the fitting instructions, and check it is tightly and correctly fitted before every trip, and take care to ensure that the seat belt is correctly threaded and tight. If you need advice, the shop where you buy your child restraint may be able to offer this.
- Always ensure your child’s seat gives his or her head and neck protection. The top of your child’s head should never come above the top of their child seat.
- Carry someone else’s child unless you are certain they are in a restraint that is correct for the height and weight and properly fitted.
- Allow your child to be carried in someone else’s vehicle unless they are appropriately restrained in a restraint that is correct for their size and weight and properly fitted.
- Carry extra kids with no restraints or seat belts, even on short journeys.
- Hold a baby or child; they will fly out of your hands in a crash.
- Put a baby or child inside your own seat belt with you – they will be crushed by the weight of your body in a crash.
Wearing a seat belt during pregnancy
It’s important to continue wearing a seatbelt while pregnant. You should wear the lap part of the seat belt under your bump. You many want to consider an alternative to travelling by car.
You are far less likely to be involved in a crash on public transport, so consider the train or bus, or walk if you can; it’s a great exercise during pregnancy.
Securing pets safely in the car
In the UK we are a nation of dog lovers and many people take their dogs everywhere with them, this involves carrying the dogs in the car. However, how many people are aware of the risks both to the driver and the dogs themselves?
A car sick dog can leave you with a bit of a mess to clear up, but far worse this can happen if you don’t take a few simple precautions.
The good news is by taking a few simple precautions both you and your pets will have many happy journeys together. There are no laws relating to carrying domestic pets in your car in the UK, but the highway code does give some advice, also check your vehicle insurance, some insurance companies may have restrictions regarding carrying pets in vehicles that aren’t safely secured.
The Highway code states “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitable restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars”.
Something that the Code doesn’t say is “Keep a firm hold of your dog’s lead when getting in and out of the car”
This one might sound like common sense but it’s amazing how may people don’t follow this advice. Clearly if you’re in the driveway, or somewhere without any moving traffic, perhaps the beach or similar, allowing your dog to jump freely in and out of the car is not a major problem, but if you’re the side of a busy road it only takes one moment for disaster to happen.
Also remember, even in Scotland on a sunny day “It can take only 6 minutes to kill you pet on a warm sunny day in your car, even with the windows opened”.