My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Mirrors ... Signal ... Drive Like A Parent!

Baby on board vs Driving solo ...

In conjunction with Road Safety Week, 2016, we were delighted to have been invited to join Maxi Cosi in their social experiment in which they worked to determine the different driving styles of both parents and those without children, and we are excited to announce that their finding have just been released!

Recent research has shown that, based on a survey of 18.6 million families in the UK, 1.9 million Brits only start checking their driving speed once they become parents. This is quite a shocking statistic when you consider the number of vehicles on the roads every day. So when Maxi Cosi invited us to participate in their experimental research, I thought that, as a family with three children, it would be a perfect opportunity to see where we place in such a calculation.

Road Safety Week is the UK's biggest road safety event, coordinated annually by Brake and involving thousands of schools, organisations and communities each year.
Brake is a road safety charity that works to prevent road death and injury, make streets and communities safer, and supports the victims of road crashes. Brake founded Road Safety Week in 1997 as an annual event to raise awareness about road safety and promote steps that everyone can take to stop these needless deaths and injuries year-round.

Personally, I don't drive. I am well aware that, as a mum to three children, driving would make life much easier for me and would allow for so much more freedoml However, the thought of driving has always terrified me! Put me in the driving seat of a car and I suddenly turn into a nervous wreck. I've not been so bad recently, and I have started to get myself into the mindset that driving would be a positive step, but it's taking some time. It's not so much my own driving ability that fills me with fear, but that of the few drivers out there on our roads that drive with little or no regard for others. Those that drive as though they are the only ones on the road and those that think their destination needs to be reached in half the estimated time. They are the ones that keep me from driving! And my reluctance to work towards my licence has increased even more since having children. How could I possibly put my three precious children in the back of the car and venture out onto the dangerous road where the 'each man for himself' attitude is so strong ...?

In a survey of 1000 parents, most admitted to adopting much safer driving habits when they had a young child on board. Over a third (36%) follow safety precautions more closely, almost half (45%) pay more attention to other vehicles on the road and 34% are more aware of the road signs they pass.

To put this to the test, Maxi-Cosi, manufacturers of child car seats for over 30 years, conducted a social experiment with the British School of Motoring  to put non-parents and parents against each other. The experiment backed up the research, with the parent-drivers being more aware of the road and watching their speed.

We were really happy as a family to be a part of this experiment. We were invited to a controlled environment in which The Man would be exposed to some every day situations whilst driving to see how they might affect his driving style. 

So, The Man was fitted with monitoring equipment to track his heart rate ...

... And Beastie & Plumlet were secured into their Maxi Cosi car seats, ready to really put their daddy through his paces! The Man was taken around the true to life test track, as he encountered other vehicles, road signs, everyday hazards and performed a number of manoeuvres,all of which drivers face each time they travel on the road. And it was almost as though Beastie had been pre-briefed by experts too, as she exposed him to one of the most difficult situations a parent faces when driving as she spent 50% of the experiment in floods of tears as she apparently was no longer happy leaving me standing on the sidelines watching! Hysterical cargo has to be one of the most distracting and distressing situations for a parent as you are torn between concentrating on a road that requires your full attention and comforting your child whom you cannot safely reach out to and who refuses to or is unable to listen to verbal reasoning.

According to the monitoring equipment, The Man was greatly affected by Beastie's distress and his driving style changed during the time that she was crying. His speed decreased as he struggled to concentrate on both at the same time, but thankfully, his attention to safety remained strong. He claims that, since becoming a parent, the safety of the children is always the most important thing to him and he would rather be late arriving at his destination if it meant ensuring that their well-being was unscathed!

Family psychologist, Dr Rachel Andrew, who oversaw the experiment said:

 “When we have children we try to keep safe in a more conscious way. When a child becomes agitated you might expect the parent to be distracted. But the parents that took part in this social experiment described the ability to consciously shift their focus from what was happening in the car to really concentrate on their driving. This makes them pay more attention to their surroundings and stops them from going onto auto-pilot. If everyone thought like this, the roads would be a much safer place.

During the experiment, which involved us and a number of other parents and non-parents and different points throughout the day, cameras were running throughout to capture every moment as it happened! Take a look at our experience ...

As part of Road Safety Week, Maxi-Cosi is sharing top tips on how to ‘drive like a parent’, making every day journeys less dangerous for all road users.

Allow more time. You can’t always predict traffic jams or road works; so to ensure you’re not worrying about being late and tempted to reach for your phone to let others know, plan in advance. Leave plenty of time to reach your destination stress-free
Keep calm. While parents are used to dealing with a crying baby or an attention-seeking child in the car, non-parents may be distracted by another driver or experience road rage which can cause a lapse in concentration. Don’t sweat the small stuff, listening to relaxing music can help drivers focus on the road
Belt up. Mums and Dads spend a lot of time making sure their precious passenger is clipped in properly – and leading by example. Do the same for yourself and anyone else travelling with you – you never know when you may be forced to make an emergency stop 
Remember the kids on the road, not just in the car. Parents may drive more safely because of who they’re driving around in their car, but there is also a consciousness around who may be on the path. Realising that your speed can kill should stop you from putting your foot down in a hurry 
Plan ahead. Parents are used to planning their days with precision and this includes knowing their optimum route, as well as where they can safely stop to attend to their children if they need to. While non-parents won’t need to pack a nappy bag, having decided on a route before they set off and carrying some water in the car could come in handy if you’re caught in a jam 

Andrew Ratcliffe, Maxi-Cosi UK Managing Director said: 
It’s interesting to see the differences between parent drivers and non-parent drivers and how those results were reflected in our research. As a parent myself, I know the importance behind car safety, your little one’s life is literally in your hands. Non-parents can really learn from the habits parents develop and should treat every journey as if there is a precious cargo on board. Maxi-Cosi’s aim is to make travelling as a family an enjoyable voyage, eliminating the stress and encouraging every driver to ‘drive like a parent’.”

So, on the back of this thorough study, how has it made you feel about your own driving style? Were you a driver prior to becoming a parent,and if so, do you feel that your habits on the road have changed as a result? And are you like The Man in feeling that now, even when the children aren't in the car, you still Drive Like A Parent ...? If you do, you're doing things right!

We were invited to take part in this social experiment by Maxi Cosi and were gifted the car seats used by the children during the test in a bid to make their everyday car journeys even safer! No other payment was offered or received for sharing the study and its results.

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