Children are returning to school – many for the first time in six months. But while the risk of Covid-19 transmission in schools is primarily a challenge for teachers, you can protect your children on the way there.
The school-run can prove to be one of the most hazardous journeys we take. The distraction of noisy children in the back, other children crossing the road, competing with other parents for a parking space – it can all add up to a stressful experience.
With help from IAM RoadSmart, we’ve compiled some tips on how to make this twice-daily journey as smoothly and safe as possible.
Driving safely to school
Sit tight, buckle up
Make sure all your children are in their child car seats, that the seats fit properly (taking into account the child’s height and weight) and that all belts are fastened.
The government guidance states: ‘Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.’
With any luck, your kids will be strapped in so securely they won’t be able to reach each other…
A snack hack
Pack snacks and toys or books to distract them when the going gets stroppy. A bite to eat or something to amuse them should keep spirits up.
As all parents know, doesn’t take much for a young child’s mood to change, so back-ups are always good to have.
Be a punctual parent
It’s easier said than done, but try not to rush. A school-run with time to spare is safer and far more relaxed, for everyone involved.
Allow plenty of time and stay calm. Children may react to your mood, which can spiral into arguments that distract you from the road.
Go slow and steady
Following on from the above, if you’re not rushing, you’re not speeding. A slower car is a safer car, particularly when children may be crossing the road.
Many schools already have 20mph speed limits nearby, and you should adhere to these carefully.
Rules of the road
The learning doesn’t have to start on the school premises. Teach your kids as much as you can about road safety as possible. Set a good example as a patient, considerate and observant driver.
Don’t park your car in a position that could endanger others. You could even park a short distance away from the school, so a brief walk can offer a practical demonstration of pedestrian safety.
Be Covid-19 aware
The final – and hopefully temporary – factor here is the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Taking your children to school by car presents a negligible risk of infection, but you may wish to use face masks if collecting other children en-route.
Once you arrive at the school, observe the rules regarding drop-off or collection (one-way systems, etc) and keep contact to a minimum.
“Traffic always picks up again after the school holidays so your journey will take longer and potentially be more stressful,” said Richard Gladman, head of driving standards at IAM RoadSmart.
“Make sure the car is fuelled up and fit and ready for stop-start traffic so you have one less thing to worry about. Be vigilant around schools as there’s likely to be children getting out of cars or walking to school.”