There are few things quite as terrifying as driving with a small child. Plenty of new mums and dads will tell you that the drive home from the hospital was as nerve-wracking as their driving test.
So what mistakes do new parents most often make behind the wheel? And how can you make sure you don’t repeat those errors?
Taking your eyes off the road
New parents spend an awful lot of time ‘just checking’ that everything is ok with their newborn. This becomes even more pressing if the little one is crying.
It’s easy enough to do. It’s not like you have specific driving lessons devoted to how to deal with the various distractions which may come your way when you’re driving.
But when you’re at the wheel, you mustn’t allow yourself to take your eyes off the road.
Lee Clarke, company director of driving school Pass N Go, said: “With a new born in the backseat, drivers are tempted to turn around and check on their child, ignoring what’s ahead. Distracted driving carries a fine of £100 and three penalty points.”
Failing to plan for breaks
Driving for a couple of hours without a break is certainly not out of the ordinary before kids arrive. But after? Good luck with that.
If you are heading out for a journey of any length, then you will need to add a couple of breaks into your travel time. Babies will start to get uncomfortable after a while and probably need a nappy change, so work out a couple of points where you can all get out, stretch your legs and nip to the loo.
Failing to plan your route
Along similar lines, working out what actual route you are going to take is important too.
You can play a bit more fast and loose when it’s a car with only adults inside, but once kids arrive you need to take a little bit of time to determine exactly what the fastest route will be, appropriate points to have those necessary breaks, and your back-up route should you encounter unexpected traffic.
Finlay Clark, GM of navigation app Waze, said: “When new parents are driving with children for the first time they are often more nervous about being stuck in traffic and need reassurance that they can find a safe place to stop in the event of an emergency.”
Making use of a navigation system can come in incredibly useful.
All parents will have horror stories of being stuck in a traffic jam while the kids lose the plot. A little bit of preparation and making use of the technology at your fingertips can help you avoid experiencing it yourself.
Don’t take out your car seat unless you know how to get it back in
Getting that car seat into place looks so easy when the sales assistant does it. The trouble is, it might not actually be quite so simple when you need to do it.
But it’s vital that you do fit the seat properly again; it won’t be safe if it is too loose, though it also may not be possible to nip back down to the shop to get them to stick it back in again for you.
Make sure you are clear on precisely how to get the seat back in place before you ever take it out. That means hanging onto the instruction manual and possibly even tracking down a video or two on YouTube, which can offer more practical assistance than a diagram in a manual.