Tag Archives: driving

5 things to consider if you’re driving while pregnant

pregnantFor most women, travelling by car is a necessity and can’t be avoided, even during pregnancy.

Whether you are making the daily commute to work, going to visit some relatives, or heading for a night out with friends, it’s still possible to make the journey by car without too much disruption to your schedule.

There are just a few things you’ll want to consider beforehand.

To help you out, we’ve come up with five essential points that will make your driving experience freer and safer. Take them on board and you should be able to travel around freely until the latter stages of your pregnancy.

Check your car regularly

Pregnant or not, before you even get behind the wheel, you should take extra time to get your car thoroughly checked and all maintenance carried out on a regular basis. This means that your car will be as safe as possible.

Have your car serviced regularly too because a good garage will spot any expensive and/or safety-related problems in advance which you might otherwise miss.

Before every journey you should ensure that you have enough fuel to complete the journey, while essential items like oil levels, coolant, lights and so on can be checked monthly or before you head off on a long journey.

Of particular note are your car tyres – these are THE most important safety-related item bar none, as they are the only part of your car in touch with the road and capable of stopping your car in time in an emergency.

The Tyre Safe charity has published some useful guidance for expecting mothers as part of their Home Safely campaign, created to highlight the particular importance of checking tyres during pregnancy.

Prepare for long journeys

Uncomfortable and long car journeys are best avoided if at all possible during pregnancy, especially during the latter stages. However, if you do need to take a trip for a few hours, there are a few things you can do to make it safer and a little more bearable.

Plan your journey ahead of time so you can be sure there are places that you can pull over regularly for a toilet stop and a stretch. Sitting still for a long period of time can often be uncomfortable when pregnant, so a chance to have a break can do wonders.

If you suffer from back pain while driving, the addition of a wedge pillow, like this one from Mothercare, can often relieve some of the stress.

Pay special attention to seat belts and airbags

While seat belts and airbags are both vital safety features of your vehicle, they deserve some special attention when pregnant. Airbags are considered safe for pregnant drivers, though you should move your seat back so there is a fair distance between the steering wheel and your bump. You may need to increase this distance as your bump grows towards the later stages.

You should wear a seatbelt at all times when driving, in accordance with the law.

However, during pregnancy a three-point belt that has a diagonal strap and a lap belt should be chosen over a lap belt only. This is because it provides better overall support, and any stress placed on your body will be more dispersed, rather than concentrated on your stomach. This instructional video from Safe Ride 4 Kids shows exactly how you should wear a three-point seatbelt during pregnancy.

Practice safe driving

Though you are most likely a safe driver anyway, when pregnant you need to be even more cautious. Don’t take any risks at all when you are behind the wheel — even if other impatient drivers are tempted to. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and practice extra vigilance when on the road. If you feel tired or ill before the journey, it’s probably best to delay it or not to make it at all, just to be safe.
Should your term fall over the winter months, you should think twice about making longer trips and read up on some winter driving techniques so you are prepared.

This guide to driving in hazardous weather by Lookers is a good place to start as it gives you practical advice for a number of weather conditions.

Know what to do if your car breaks down

There are a few precautions that you can take to be prepared for a vehicle break down. The first, and one of the most important, pieces of advice is to always travel with a fully-charged mobile phone, so that you can make an emergency call or find your location should you need to.

It might also be wise to keep a phone charger handy that fits into the cigarette lighter of your car.

Should you feel that something is wrong with your car, pull over safely at the earliest opportunity and point the front wheels away from traffic with your hazard lights on.

You should try and call a breakdown service as soon as possible, as well as a loved one to let them know what has happened. When someone is on their way, it is simply a case of waiting for some assistance.

Keep these essential five pointers in mind and you will be able to safely enjoy the same level of mobility that you have been used to before and throughout your pregnancy.

Child Seat Regulations when driving abroad


If you’re driving abroad this summer be sure to know the child car seat regulations for the country you’re in (and through).

If you are renting a car on holiday abroad, be sure to record and specify the precise age and height of any children travelling with you and to check the hire company (and any airport transfer/collection taxi service) has what you need.

It helps to know the rules for yourself, for added peace of mind so we’ve compiled a handy guide, correct at the time of publication for top holiday destinations.

United Nations Child Restraint Groupings

These are the approved recognised Child Restraint Systems according to UN Regulation No. 44.

car seats

However, you need to be aware of the current variations from country to country for your holiday destination.

Travelling within the EU

Council Directive 91/671/EEC says that children less than 135cm tall (NB: This is 150cm in some countries (see below) must be restrained by a system suited to the child’s physical features and be approved to UN Regulation No. 44/03 standards (see above table).


Variations by country are:


Children under the age of 10 must travel in an approved child seat or restraint system (see above table).
Rear facing child seats are approved in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.


Children younger than 12 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) cannot travel as front seat passengers. They must travel in the rear in appropriate child restraint systems (see above table).

Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.


Children younger than 12 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) cannot travel as front seat passengers. They must travel in the rear in appropriate child restraint systems (see above table). Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.


Children younger than 12 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) cannot travel as front seat passengers. They must travel in the rear in appropriate child restraint systems (see above table). Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.


Confusingly, the rules differ from state to state. You can check the US requirements here. In general, most states prefer children under the age of 12 to be seated in the rear of the car. What differs from the EU is that rear-facing seats are mandatory in many states till children are 1 years old (and possibly 2 years old) regardless of weight.


Children younger than 10 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) or weighing less than 36kg must use a child-safety seat and sit in the rear seats. Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.


United Nations report on Regulation 44


USA and Canada Child Safety Seat Law Guide

For dedicated motoring support services, information and advice like this, we recommend that women drivers in the UK join FOXY Lady Drivers Club, the only UK motoring support service for women.

Bon Voyage, Bonnes Vacances

Claire and Kids
Claire and Kids

Are you dreaming of a French family holiday but hesitant about taking the car?

Claire from BrightonMums.com urges you to take the plunge, based on recent family motoring trips.

Here she shares her experiences and some tips on planning your holiday journey.

Don’t panic – just drive on the right

Driving on the right is nowhere near as daunting as it seems. Once you’re circulating within the flow of their traffic, everything starts to feel logical. If anything, deserted roundabouts are probably more of a problem, as there’s no other cars to follow!

Read our Driving in France mini-guide for a summary of the main differences between UK and French road rules.

I also found this comprehensive site about what to take and which rules to take note of.

The need for speed

Some parts of the French autoroute (motorway) have a 130mph speed limit (which I secretly LOVE). You may find local drivers go at real speed on the autoroute, they may even flash their headlights to warn you to move from the overtaking lane.

Don’t be intimidated, you haven’t done anything wrong but move over when safe and let them get on with it.



The French autoroute network is no more complicated than the UK to plan around. In fact, I would controversially suggest their signposts are often more logically sited and comprehensive, especially around cities.

France has always had an excellent network of signs for local attractions and landmarks (brown signs with white writing like ours), perfect for tourists.

Invest in an up-to-date road atlas if your GPS won’t work in France or goes wrong for some reason.

Roaming data for phones is mighty expensive too and although some service stations have WiFi it’s not a given.

Hot child in the city

If you fancy driving in Paris, give it a go but plan your route carefully in advance.

During August, when most Parisiennes leave the city, Paris operates a free parking scheme in some central locations. Look for blue dots on the parking ticket machines.

We parked near to Jardin de Luxembourg, a perfect base for exploring the city.

Don’t forget that Paris can get hot and muggy in summer, so when you find the heat gets to you, hop on a Bateaux Mouches along the river Seine to refresh and enjoy the views.

Look at junctions using satellite images to figure out which lane to be in going from one to the next. This will also help you spot roads with bus lanes.

Autoroute Glossary

Take a French phrasebook with you that has a good driving section in. However, here are a few regular words you’ll see on signs on the motorway, which may not be so obvious to figure out for English drivers.

Aire – rest stop usually with a picnic area
Autres directions – all other routes
Cedez le passage – give way
Interdit – forbidden eg interdit à toute circulation = no traffic permitted
Péage – toll
Rappel – reminder (of the speed limit usually)
Toutes directions – all routes this way
Sortie – exit
Véhicules lents – slow vehicle lane
Vous n’avez pas la priorité – You don’t have priority (usually at the junction)

Do you feel motivated to book that trip now?

Alors, on y va! That means ‘off you go…’ of course, and we hope you have a great time.

How to deal with overtaking lorries on motorways

blindspot_graphic_700On a recent M40 journey I watched an overseas lorry in front of me pull into the centre lane of the motorway at the same time as a young driver in a Golf was overtaking it, whilst already in the centre lane. The car was lightly side-swiped; luckily the lorry driver reacted in time and the VW driver held his course but it was a VERY close run thing. I overtook both then pulled into the next service station expecting the VW driver to do the same, when I could have helped him check the car for any damage and confirm that this wasn’t his fault, but he didn’t.

So today’s driving advice from the IAM is a useful reminder that overseas drivers mightn’t be able to see us. I’m not saying that it’s good enough to accept things as they are (surely trucks should be designed with visibility in mind/they should have more/better mirrors to give them that overtaking confidence/vision?) but with advance knowledge of this and some careful planning, motorway driving and how you deal with overtaking lorries needn’t be the problem we might otherwise envisage.

Here are some tips from the IAM that I recommend you take the time to read and consider…

1/ Be aware that all lorries based within the EU are restricted to driving at 56mph so their speed is relatively predictable.

2/ If you are driving at 50mph in a lane to the right of a truck, bear in mind that the driver may need to keep to a tight delivery schedule and want to drive at 56mph. So don’t hang about or sit there.

3/ Be VERY careful when overtaking left-hand-drive lorries on UK roads as they will have very little visibility of you to their right ie where you are. Their blind spot can be quite big so again, don’t hang about and keep your wits about you throughout the manouevre.

4/ One of the ways to identify a foreign truck is if the registration plate of a lorry ahead of you is anything other than our familiar amber-coloured UK plate. Another way is to look at the pattern of mirrors on a lorry – left-hand-drive lorries will usually have a mirror pointing downwards on the right-hand side which means you can identify them more easily (UK trucks have this mirror on the left for obvious reasons.)

5/ If you can, try to see the driver’s face before you overtake them. If you cannot see it, chances are the driver will be unable to see you either.

6/ Where you can (and I am sure the Golf driver I saw on the M40 will do this for a long while), you should allow an additional lane when passing lorries (eg. go into the third lane and not just the second lane.) This means you will be less likely to be “side swiped” by a truck driver who didn’t see you. Trucks tend to create a lot of wind effect in front of and behind them causing passing vehicles to be blown around and this avoids that problem as well.

7/ Avoid making last minute manoeuvres and leave plenty of room between you and the lorry. Remember, trucks cannot react in the same way as a car can – give them space.

8/ Finally, always drive to anticipate the reactions of other motorists. If it’s taken a lorry driver ages to get up to 56mph and they are gaining on a lorry doing less they will want to overtake – I’ve seen many pull out leaving the bare minimum space between them and the next vehicle. But perhaps the vehicle behind should have seen this coming…

In short, learn to expect the unexpected when driving on motorways – this works wonders for concentration levels.

Let’s end with some wise advice from IAM’s Head of Driver Standards Peter Rodger:

“There is no reason why dealing with lorries should be a cause for worry. What would make matters a lot easier for everyone is allowing space and time for the truck driver to react and do their thing. They will appreciate it if you show them this courtesy, and make your motorway journey a far sweeter experience. Happy motoring!”


Who dares nominate a motoring brother, husband or Dad?

Williams FW35 RevealA new BBC One programme is looking for drivers who need a motoring makeover for their future safety and that of the rest of the motoring public. Clearly this won’t include FOXY Lady Drivers (!) but we’d like to encourage females to nominate men to be sure of a fair gender balance here.

First of all I wondered why the BBC had contacted us. My initial thoughts were negative; what if the programme turns out to be one of those that humiliates and laughs at those that are prepared to be on TV for that very purpose… But was I being too sensitive and short-sighted even?

Could a genuinely serious motoring programme REALLY challenge the Top Gear formula by helping others improve their driving skills by visual example and would this make for compelling prime time TV?

I next wondered what sort of person is happy to be singled out for motoring attention. Doesn’t the fact that they’re willing to be on TV skew their genuine motoring ability somewhat… and isn’t it more likely to be women than men who admit to wanting to improve their driving? Come to think of it, did I know ANY men likely admit having motoring failings? Although Dad you’d definitely be on my Top Ten list…!!

Men needed

nominateThe fact is that neither I nor the casting company can be sure how many men or women will be prepared to admit to motoring failings but to balance the gender formula here I’d like to encourage as many MALE NOMINATIONS as possible.

So here is the information we have about the show.

If someone you know is game for having their driving ability scrutinised by a team of experts (to benefit watching motorists who can learn as a result of their experience…) then please get in touch with the programme planners via drive@outlineproductions.co.uk or call 0207 424 7676 with your contact details as soon as possible.


No matter how terrible their driving our team of experts believe they can turn them around?

Do you have a family member or friend whose parking is so perilous you can’t bear to look and find yourself bracing for that loud bang? Do they think road signs are just a suggestion and before you know it they’re driving the wrong way down a one-way street? Perhaps they’ve had so many bumps and scrapes their insurance company is on speed-dial?

Do you find yourself worrying every time they get behind the wheel? Maybe it’s because they drive too fast or are too easily distracted that their eyes aren’t always on the road. Are you concerned that their ranting and raving behind the wheel will get them in trouble one day? Well help is at hand.

If you know someone who could improve their driving skills – we’re offering unique, tailor-made training to turn any driver into a model motorist.

For programme updates

For programme updates please Follow or Like Farrah at Twitter or Facebook.

https://twitter.com/FarrahSolim or https://www.facebook.com/farrah.solim.7