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Keeping your child safe while driving

It is important that you do not get distracted while driving.

Always pull over to the side of the road if your child gets out of their car seat harness or seat belt.

Lead by example and always wear your seat belt when travelling.

Long journeys

When you go on long journeys, take regular breaks. Park in a safe place and put your baby on their back for a short while. Take a 15 minute break every 2 hours.

Sleeping in a sitting position can cause your baby's head to fall forward and this may make it hard for them to breathe.

Check your baby’s back, head and neck position regularly to make sure that they are not slumped forwards.

Sleeping in car seats

Car seats are designed to keep your baby safe while travelling, but they should not be your baby’s main sleeping place.

Once you have reached your destination, take your baby out of the car and the child seat.

If they are sleeping, put them on their back to sleep. If they're awake, put them on their tummy for some tummy time while being supervised.

Do not use head support straps or other straps placed across your child's forehead.

Children in cars

Never leave a child unattended in a car, even for a short while.

There is a risk of:

  • breathing problems on warm days
  • accidentally trapping them in electronically operated windows
  • leaving your keys in the car when you are not in it
  • unexpected fire

Do not leave pets unrestrained in cars.

Use soft, bath-time books and soft toys to keep your child occupied in the back seat while you drive. Blanket-toys are also great for car rides.


Car toys should be soft and light, without hard or sharp bits. This is because if there is a crash, the toy could be launched at your child at the speed you were going.

Watch out for children in busy public spaces

Take extra care when driving in public spaces where children are likely to be.

Children are small and may be hard to see if you are not paying attention to the road.

Children are also unpredictable and can be unaware of dangerous situations.

Pay special attention in:

  • housing estates
  • local shop routes
  • shopping centres
  • schools
  • play areas

Be extremely careful in shopping centre car parks. It's often easy for an adult to be distracted while loading shopping into a car and for a child to wander off.


Watch out for children when:

  • reversing into or out of driveways
  • parking outside the home

These are areas where children often play.

When vehicles are coming into or leaving your driveway, make sure your children are safe. Keep them inside the home or hold on to them securely.

Always check around your car before reversing.

When parking, always reverse in and drive out of a parking space slowly and carefully.

Watch a video on child safety around driveways - from the RSA

Page last reviewed: 20 October 2023
Next review due: 20 October 2026