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Keeping your child safe while driving

What to do if your child gets out of their car seat, how often to take breaks on long journeys, why you should never leave a child alone in a vehicle, and dangers to be aware of when driving and in driveways.

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

If travelling on long journeys, take regular breaks. Park in a safe place and place your baby on their back for a short while. It is recommended that you take a 15 minute break every 2 hours.

Sleeping in a sitting position can cause your baby's head to fall forward and cause difficulty in breathing. Once you have reached your destination, take your baby out of both 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.

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 or leaving your keys in the car
  • unexpected fire

Don't leave pets unrestrained in cars.

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 places such as:

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

Take extra care when driving through housing estates. Children are often out and about. They could run out in front of you at any moment, for any reason.

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.

Driveways

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. Because of their size and lack of danger awareness, children are at risk from reversing vehicles.

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

Watch a video from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) on child safety on or near driveways and in housing estates

Drive safely

You have a responsibility to drive safely, not only to yourself but to your family and other road users.

Page last reviewed: 27/03/2019
Next review due: 27/03/2022