It’s that time of the year again: time to plan those adventures, pack up the car and head out to the beach or to enjoy a picnic with friends or family. Whether your plans are for a long road trip or a short adventure, travelling with kids and adults on car journeys can be challenging. But they are doable, and if planned right they can be fun, with everyone arriving ready to enjoy the break.
Planning your perfect road trip can be a stressful and exhausting ordeal, but Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour (ITB) team has some tips to help. Here are some practical ideas for how to make your journey as successful as possible:
- Is your car road ready? Highways England recommend carrying out a few quick and easy checks to ensure you and your vehicle are safely equipped to drive. Having a roadworthy vehicle can also save you time and money in the future.
- Just a little point to consider – do you have breakdown cover? If not…. do you need it? And if you do…have you got the number to hand?
- Your safety
- Make sure you are well rested and try to get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Sleep deprivation can contribute to frazzled nerves and unsafe driving. It’s helpful if your children are also rested at the start of the trip.
- Never drive if you are under the influence of drink or have taken drugs. Take it easy on the booze the night before and if you are on any medication from your doctor, make sure it doesn’t affect your ability to drive safely.
- Sounds a silly question but ‘Do you know where you’re going to?’ (Winging it sounds fun…. But we’ve heard from a reliable source that ‘It rarely is!’)
- Before you set off, plan your route and identify opportunities for you to take a break during your journey. Take a scenic stop off, e.g. near a park or lake, on the way. This will not only help you, but it will give your kids and other passengers a chance to burn off some energy.
- If you’re using a Satnav make sure it’s up to date and that you are able to charge it. Try to have a backup in case it fails. Of course, you can always print out a copy of your route from Google maps and it would be wise to check the latest traffic conditions here .
- Driving is a complicated task and requires the full attention of the driver at all times. Try and keep distractions to a minimum. Things like mobile phones and iPods are best placed in the glove box.
- The biggest unavoidable distraction on a road journey is other passengers, especially the kids. So…..
- Be kid-prepared
- If you are driving with kids, have plenty of planned activities ready, such as audio books, sticker/activity books or good old fashioned games like ‘I-Spy’, especially if your destination is a long way from home. This can be true for adults too.
- Before you hit the road, make sure your child has an appropriate car seat and that it is fitted correctly. You can check out the new laws on car seats here and see if you have the right size seat for your little ones.
- Be flexible
- You might need a second route in mind if there are unexpected roadworks, breakdowns or accidents.
- If the weather is unexpectedly hot then you may need extra comfort breaks.
Just one more point for those of us who aren’t going on holiday and who will be going about our normal routines:
Watch out for the kids – they’re everywhere.
Unfortunately some kids may be too excited playing with their friends to remember all the road safety training they’ve had so that means as a driver you need to be the responsible one. A child doesn’t have a chance against a 3,000 pound (or heavier) vehicle, so make sure your distractions are out of sight and that you are giving the road your full attention.
Everyone wants the summer holidays to be remembered for the right reasons – we all want our children to have happy memories to go back to school with. With all this in mind, don’t forget your bucket and spade and sun cream and go have some fun. Have a safe and hassle free journey and we’ll catch you at the beach.