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October 19, 2016 4 min read

5 Ways you can make travelling in the car safer

Last week we were lucky to have Sergant Bruce Wilson, National Trainer for Crash Investigation at the New Zealand Police, attend our team meeting to talk about road safety in New Zealand.

We were keen to learn about what Sgt Bruce Wilson is seeing out on NZ roads, and what we can do to improve the safety of our customers and our communities.

Here is a list of our five key learnings from the meeting. They're easy things for you to implement in your family and your car, they won't cost much (or any) money, but they could make a difference. Safer communities together guys!!

1. Ignore the distractions

We're mums too, so we know how hard it is to stay focused on the road when you've got a crying baby, pesky toddler, or unruly child in the back, but it's really important that you do. Sadly, there have been fatal crashes in New Zealand that have been attributed to drivers being distracted by children in the back.

Sgt Bruce Wilson says: Teach your children that you'll pull over when you get to a safe place to do so and that they won't have your full attention while you're driving.

2 Ignore your phone

This is a biggie, and in our modern world our phones are always within arms reach, but you need to learn to ignore them while you're driving. There have been fatal crashes in New Zealand because the driver was distracted by their phone. You need to break the habit of using your phone while you're driving. Going on google maps while you're driving still counts. Changing a podcast while driving still counts. Reading texts while driving still counts. Snapchatting while driving still counts. Talking on the phone on speaker while you're driving still counts.

Bruce says: Using your phone while you're driving will lead to longer response times, it's so dangerous! Don't do it.

3. Give the seat a little wiggle

A tip from Bruce is to give your car seat a little wiggle, each time that you place your child in there, just to be sure that it's still installed correctly. This is especially important for car seats that have been installed using the seatbelt, as there have been instances where other passengers in the back seat have accidentally unbuckled the seat belt that was holding a car seat in place. This could lead to the car seat being ejected from the car.

Bruce says: Car seats need to be installed correctly for every trip. Get in the habit of quickly checking yours every time you put your child in there, just a quick wiggle of the seat is enough.

4. Secure the projectiles

Something to think about: Unsecured projectiles can do damage in the event of an accident. We're talking about things like groceries on the back seat, passengers without their seatbelts on, and even things in the boot if you drive a station wagon.

Sgt Bruce Wilson says: 'If you drive a station wagon, secure your luggage in the boot, especially before long trips. You can do this by using a luggage net over the luggage, or a cargo barrier between the boot and the back seat'.

5. Use the car seat correctly, every time

Installing a car seat correctly, and buckling a child in tightly will mean that the seat performs better in the event of an accident. That can be said for the cheapest seat, right through to the most expensive. If the car seat has a harness, make sure that the harness is tight (do the pinch test, grasp the webbing of the strap- you shouldn't be able to pinch any at all).

Install the seat correctly, as outlined in the manual.

Set a good example by using your seat belt every time you travel.

Sgt Bruce Wilson says: 'Follow the instructions in the manual, and use the car seat for every trip'.
Whether you're travelling long or short distances these holidays, you can be a little bit safer if you follow the tips of; not getting distracted, not using your phone while you're driving, checking the car seat each time you use it, securing projectiles, and installing and using the car seat correctly for every trip. These tips won't cost you much (or any) money, so we hope that you found them helpful and that you can implement some of them.

While we had Sgt Bruce Wilson in store, we wanted to get his opinion on something we're asked about a lot...

FAQ- 'What's the safest spot in the car?'

This was a question that we were keen to get Bruce's opinion on- which seat in the car is the safest, and therefore which seat should the car seat be placed in.

The most common car crash scenario is nose to tail, in that case, the side of the car that the child is sitting in isn't really relevant.

The next most common is side-impact (especially common in cities). Car crash statistics show that the middle seat and the back seat passengers side are the best.

Bruce says: Let's imagine you're pulling out of your driveway and turning right, if you are hit by oncoming traffic from your right then they are going to hit you and the person in the driver's side behind you. If you're hit by traffic coming from your left (on the other side of the road) they're going to hit the back left corner of your vehicle, it's much less common in a side-impact for the back passenger's side to be hit directly.
Opinions are those of Sgt Bruce Wilson, and not of the New Zealand Police.

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