Tag Archives: safety

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.

Pregnant Mums need to Check Car Tyres

tyres_pregnantAround 700,000 new babies will make their first solo journey home from hospital in 2016 having been car passengers inside Mum for the previous nine months.

By applying known tyre safety statistics here, something like one in four of these babies and Mums, during this lengthy period, could be travelling in cars that are potentially dangerous because their tyres haven’t been checked before or between MOTs.

This risk applies to all Mums and their children of course, not just pregnant ones, but with a new baby on their minds, it’s possible they might be thinking more about cots, prams and baby clothes than the road-worthiness of their everyday car?

And in case you are reading this in late stages of pregnancy, nobody has to do their own tyre checks because approved tyre professionals will do this for you, usually completely free, whether you’re male or female, pregnant or not!!

But pregnant Mums carry a particularly precious cargo so we recommend you get your tyres checked regularly during pregnancy. You can do this via a local TyreSafe retailer or via a tyre service that is FOXY Lady Approved as an added bonus.

Janine’s story

We’ll let Janine explain why this matters and why tyre safety will forever be at the top of her checklists in future.

Janine McCarthy had a miraculous escape after a defective tyre on her car rapidly deflated, causing her vehicle to spin out of control and crash into the central reservation on a busy motorway near her home. The car flipped six times before coming to a standstill and Janine thought she and her unborn baby were going to die.

“I could see on-coming traffic and I panicked, braking harder. It caused the car to tip and start to roll and smash into the central metal fencing. It was terrifying. Witnesses told me afterwards that the car smashed into the barrier, flew to the opposite barrier, and then rolled down into the middle of a field.

“When the car came to a standstill I was petrified that something had happened to my baby as I was nearly three months pregnant at the time and noticed blood.

“The emergency services told me they couldn’t believe I walked away from the crash alive.”

Amazingly Janine escaped the ordeal with minor cuts and bruises and her unborn baby was unscathed. She is looking forward to the birth of her baby in March but this experience has been life-changing for her.

Home safely on safe tyres

As a result, Janine is supporting TyreSafe’s new ‘Home Safely on Safe Tyres’ campaign by sharing her story so others might learn from this and not go through the same experience.

Her advice to other Mums? Add ‘CHECK TYRES’ to your pre-baby checklist and do this at the start of your pregnancy, not wait until you’re planning the hospital visit.

We say – make sure any ‘expectant’ Dad-in-waiting is aware of this too because it isn’t just women who can neglect this area.

And whilst ALL children are precious and we need our car tyres to be safe for ALL motorists, Janine’s story reminds us that when a Mum is pregnant, she and her car are carrying the life of another that is totally dependent on her for its life.

Thank goodness this story had a happy ending.

For further information on the ‘Home Safely on Safe Tyres’ campaign, view the accompanying animation.

What is the safest car in 2016?

With car safety at the top of so many car shopping lists we were eagerly awaiting the What Car? Safety Awards of 2016. We rate these awards highly because:

1/ They are the only ones to be independently selected by the experts at Thatcham Research, in conjunction with a hand-picked panel of safety authorities.

2/ Their safety shortlist is underpinned by a 5 star Euro NCAP rating indicating good performance in crash protection and well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.

3/ Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is a must for award winners and the judges give further credit for additional, innovative and unique safety equipment.

NB: AEB is a system to monitor the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brake the car in an emergency situation if the driver fails to respond. Rather than protecting the occupant in the event of a crash like the seatbelt and the airbag, AEB aims to prevent the crash happening in the first place avoiding all the associated misery and cost. It is also the sign of things to come – 37% of all new cars launched in 2015 have AEB available as standard (compared to a previous 17%) and another 36% as optional (compared to 24%).

4/ The price is a factor too whereby those manufacturers that make safety accessible to many not just a few are marked higher.

About Thatcham Research

In case you don’t know what they do, Thatcham Research is the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, researching, testing and providing insurers with a wealth of data on all new vehicles. The insurers can then rate risk more accurately. As the UK’s only accredited Euro NCAP crash test centre and one of the key overall contributors to the Euro NCAP consumer safety testing programme, Thatcham is ideally positioned to select Britain’s safest car.

The safest car award selection process

All seventeen award candidates were assessed as follows.

i/ They must have 5 star Euro NCAP star rating and standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking on at least one trim level within the model range.

ii/ The Thatcham-assembled panel of experts all analyse each car’s adult, child and pedestrian protection scores from NCAP, assessing where and how effectively the AEB system worked and giving further credit for additional and unique safety equipment and innovation.

iii/ Cars are then marked down if safety kit was available on cars outside the UK but not in the UK.

iv/ Finally, a weighting was applied to do with the price of the vehicle in that competitively priced cars were rewarded (more than expensive ones) for bringing safety to more buyers.

Who are the What Car? Safety Award Winners?

XC90The Overall Winner was the Volvo XC90. With Volvo’s long standing reputation you’d expect them to be a contender for any safety award, however the XC90 in particular has proved to be head and shoulders above the rest with its high levels of active and passive safety making it Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever.

Evidently Volvo has raised the bar with this car, going beyond what is currently part of the standard safety evaluation to offer a unique package of safety features including pedestrian and cyclist recognition auto braking, run-off road protection and rear collision alert.

There were two runners up

Honda JazzThe Honda Jazz is a great example of how good levels of safety can be offered, regardless of vehicle size and budget.

For under £14,000 the Jazz gets you standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking across the full range whilst ‘one touch’ speed limiting, also standard, is unique in this ‘Supermini’ class of vehicle. With other safety technologies like Lane Departure Warning and traffic sign recognition also available the Jazz offers a high level of safety at an attractive price.

Toyota AvensisPlus the Toyota Avensis which is highly commended and provides fleet buyers and families alike with a very high level of protection at a reasonable price.

Toyota is another manufacturer who has gone beyond what is currently tested by safety bodies to provide many standard fit crash prevention features, as well as accommodating the very latest I-Size child seats. Meanwhile advanced technologies like Lane Departure Warning and low and high speed Autonomous Emergency Braking are available across the majority of the range.


Sixteen winter motoring tips

Winter-BreakdownHere’s some winter driving tips to keep you safe through winter months.

We’ve been lucky with the weather so far but it can’t last. Before we all descend into merry festive frost, snow and icy conditions here are our timely tips and practical ways to stay safer when driving this winter.

1. When the snow falls don’t make unnecessary journeys and avoid roads that are unlikely to get gritted.

2. If you have to venture out in bad weather make sure you plan ahead in case you get stuck. Food, hot drink in flask, warm clothes, suitable footwear, torch, mobile phone, important phone numbers, shovel – that sort of thing.

3. Keep your ice scraper, defrost spray and a pair of gloves to hand in the car. Clear snow from the car roof as well as the windows/windscreen in case it falls off and blocks your vision…

4. Don’t leave your car unattended whilst it’s defrosting – thieves love this and insurers don’t.

5. When the temperature drops below 7° consider winter tyres; they are MUCH safer re grip and braking. If you need advice, speak to one of our FOXY Lady Approved Tyre Centres

6. Is your breakdown cover up to date? What cover is it? Do you need Home Start? Your home is usually where your car won’t start, early in the morning and most ‘ordinary’ breakdown policies don’t include this and will refuse to come out unless you pay extra. It’s cheaper to add Homestart at the outset for peace of mind.
NB: Club members get a special RAC deal.

7. Check windscreen wipers and replace them if need be – visibility is everything.
Halfords will fit these but it’s very easy to DIY really…
NB: Where in doubt, members can ask us.

8. Keep your water bottle topped up and check this before a long journey – visibility is everything.
I remember driving in the outside lane on the M25 after a VW main dealer car service when I ran out of water to clear my murky windscreen because they hadn’t checked this (after ticking the checklist). I couldn’t see well enough through my grey and smeared screen and was very scared. I always check now.

9. Keep your lights clean – visibility again. Be sure to wipe them over after a dirty weather day’s driving. This makes a big difference to you and others.

10. Do you know how and when to use your foglights? Or when not to? Read your car handbook to be sure. Drivers using fog lights inappropriately can blind other drivers and of course if you don’t know how to use them you aren’t making the most of your visibility options.

11. Antifreeze levels – don’t neglect your engine during the winter. If it freezes outside that’s OK but you don’t want the water inside your engine to expand and crack your engine (usually terminal ie very expensive…) NB: Antifreeze also stops your engine from rusting inside aka a corrosion inhibitor so, despite its name, you need it all year round really…

12. Is your battery playing up? If it is you can rely on it to let you down when you need it most. Best to buy a new one.
NB: Club members save 15% off National Tyres & Autocare battery prices.

13. Look out for local garages offering a winter check – they’ll normally charge for this but it’ll save your time which should be costed into the formula. Start with a FOXY Lady Approved garage

14. Consider getting your windscreen coated with Duxback to keep it clean. This is the stuff used by aircraft because, when you think of it, they don’t use windscreen wipers but pilots need a clear screen just the same.
NB: Special Duxback offer coming in January.

15. We all know to cut back our speed but few of us realise it takes us up to ten times longer to stop on icy roads. So lengthen the gap between you and others. In floods, you could aquaplane ie lose road grip altogether in whci case you should take your foot off the accelerator and don’t brake hard – just let the car slow down in the hope you have the space to do this…

16. When it’s party time, just say ‘no’ to alcohol unless it’s someone else’s time to drive. Just one drink could affect your driving ability and you’d never forgive yourself if you caused an accident affecting others (at any time of the year…).

Stay safe by being ultra cautious whenever it’s cold, wet, icy or snowy. If you don’t have to drive or travel, just don’t.