Travel in 2020 has taken on a completely different dimension. Many people have chosen to travel around Poland or neighboring countries by car instead of taking vacation flights. In this post we would like to draw your attention to safe car travel, because it is not enough to just buckle up and put children in the cheapest car seat.
The year isn’t over yet, but we already know that this year saw the most kilometers driven per year on our car’s odometer since we can remember. Although we’ve been doing a lot less city driving, we’ve definitely been spinning more miles on routes around Poland.
From your testimonials and comments, it seems that a great many people also opted for car travel over air tours. The year 2020 will surely go down as the year of a real siege of Polish tourist attractions ;)
Today, however, will not be about interesting corners or beautiful routes. Today will be about something more important, namely SAFETY. Because safe travel is not just about avoiding fines and complying with what the law dictates for drivers. Nor is it buying the safest car and charging down the streets to the limit. This is first and foremost AWARE of safe travel – we care about the safety of ourselves, passengers but also other road users.
So we have collected a dozen important points that significantly improve the safety of driving. It’s important that they get into the habit!
Attention! After reading this post you will change the way you think about traveling by car. You’ll probably get a few hairs on your head, it’s possible that you’ll go straight to check the car or replace the car seat. Share this post with someone whose safety you care about, let’s travel safer.
Table of contents
Fasten your seat belts correctly
And now you’re probably thinking: PFFF, what are they writing the basics here. But before you turn off this article read to the end :) Because we don’t have to convince anyone about the fact that we wear our belts, right?
It’s really a small thing, and it affects safety incredibly. We only learned about it during the Driving Technique Improvement course, a few years ago, and it’s really a shame that we weren’t aware of it earlier.
Well, when fastening the belts it is very important to tighten them properly. Once the straps are fastened, pull quite firmly on the shoulder (top) section to make sure they fit snugly. This is really a second or two of your attention, and a significant improvement in safety, because with this movement we are sure that the belt will properly stop the body during a rollover, for example.
In addition, it is very important that the buckled belt must not be twisted anywhere, it should fit snugly against the body. Remember that in most cars you can adjust the height of the upper belt attachment, so adjust it to your height so that it does not touch your neck. The lower belt, or hip belt, should run below the abdomen.
Finally, an interesting fact – we recently caught up with a Volvo ad for seat belts. Did you know that it was the Volvo brand that was the first to introduce belts, and this was in August 1959? Interestingly, this has been met with quite a wave of criticism; there have been claims about the restriction of freedom, how inconvenient and ineffective they are…. And now we can’t imagine a car without seat belts. Do you see any analogy to wearing masks these days? :)
Wearing a seat belt during pregnancy
On the subject of wearing a seat belt correctly, there are many important issues, but one is particularly important – when the female driver or passenger is pregnant. By law, a woman with an advanced (visible) pregnancy has the right not to wear a seat belt. (Art. 39(2) of the Law of June 20, 1997 “Traffic Law”).
And here we very, very much warn and encourage you to wear your seatbelt! Because, in general, we ourselves do not know why this record takes place. I guess it just results from the fact that some women are simply uncomfortable in belts. Studies show that it is definitely worth having (good!) belts on than not wearing them
Even at the end of pregnancy. We have even encountered the statement that if a doctor forbids a pregnant woman to wear a seat belt, she should not travel by car. So it’s better not to take the legal provision as an acquiescence to driving without a seatbelt, but to travel safely above all. We always, even on the way to the hospital, had our seat belts on!
Travel without outerwear
Another issue is also related to the correct wearing of seat belts. As we mentioned in the first point, the belt must fit snugly around the body. Now think about it, what is the adhesion if we are traveling in a down jacket, for example? This unfortunately leaves a lot of room for slack.
And unfortunately, at this point we have to admit that we do not always take off our jackets, but we try to do it as often as possible. And if we don’t take them off, we always unbuckle them and fasten the belt under the jacket. This allows the belt to fit better, especially in the hip area, and remember that this protects us from falling out, for example, during a rollover.
The topic also applies to children! When carrying children in the car seat, you should remove thicker outer clothing (here many people recommend a wrap, poncho, or just a blanket to cover up – you can find plenty of ideas and hints on the Internet, with us a blanket simply works). Yes, it may seem like an inconvenience, but especially for longer or faster routes, remember to take off your jackets, because, unfortunately, even the best seat will be of no use if the child is improperly buckled up.
And for skeptics, we recommend this Youtube video.
Seats – not anti-mandates
A river topic :) Because that car seats must be when traveling with children we probably do not need to convince anyone. We will argue, however, that these are not to be typical so-called “so-called” “”new” products. ANTIMANDATES.
Unfortunately, as in the case of pregnant women’s travel, Polish law allows quite dangerous movements. A lot of people buy the so-called. “bolsters”, because the manufacturer wrote that it is safe, and on top of that from how many kilograms, so the child can already ride it safely. Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not add that on such a thing, it is impossible to safely guide the belts, making them dangerous for the child, there is no side protection…. by the way, it is explained quite emphatically in this video. Oh, and the recently popular Smart Kid Belt, it’s also no, safe solution.
Personally, we’re Team #backwards, meaning we have and will continue to carry our children for as long as possible in rear-facing seats (i.e., RWF seats), but we know that many people choose forward-facing seats for a variety of reasons. Although it is generally recommended to carry children in the back as long as possible, if you decide otherwise, take care to choose a good car seat – a good one, not only according to the manufacturer, but according to independent tests, with approvals.
Because it is not enough to meet the basic ECE R-44-04 standard, which, by the way, says little about the safety of the seat. It is better to look at the stars of at least ADAC, but even here you need to read in, because 50% of the rating is safety, and the other 50% is the so-called “safety”. usability. Also up for consideration is Sweden’s Test Plus, which measures the overload on a dummy’s neck during an accident (that is, it measures whether the child would have survived the accident). For more information, we refer you to the experts and our post on car seats.
The seat is matched to the car and to the child. Although we were choosing a car for the seats when we changed cars ;) So we walked around the showrooms with the RWF and checked how with the installation, how much space would be left for the driver, etc. Nowhere did they look at us strangely. However, having two, rather large RWFs, we knew we wanted a larger car so that the tall driver would have plenty of legroom. Currently, the choice is the Volvo XC60, where the comfort of the driver and passenger has not been compromised ;)
Parent and child’s place in the car
Many people wonder where to install the car seat and where the parent should sit. Often these are tidbits: is the parent in the back with the child, or the older child in the front, and the parent with the younger child in the back, and what if there are three children?
The basic principle is one: the most important thing is the safety of both the child and the parent. FATHER too! The parent’s safety is absolutely on a par.
Let’s use an example: a family with two children, two seats in the back, one parent sits in the back to keep an eye on the children, reassure, puzzle, etc. However, the installation of the seats prevents the correct fastening of the parent’s belts…. In such a situation, the parent absolutely should not sit unfastened in the back, as he or she remains unprotected in the event of a possible accident
Okay, an example rather extreme, but remember that there is nothing to go into heroism and sacrifices, and you should simply find the best solution that works for you and is safe.
In our case, when we rode with one child, it happened that one of us sat in the back on the couch. With two, it was more important for us to mount the two seats well in the back (including the shell with the base) and be able to get the kids in comfortably and buckle them in properly. Rear seating is not that important to us here.
Some general and basic principles. We mount the seat where it is safe and possible to do so at all. If you have an Isofix seat, where does it go in the car? Does the profile of the couch allow the installation of a car seat? Are the straps enough to fit the car seat? Laugh, but once in a rental we were not able to install the seat backwards for this reason. Is it possible to mount a car seat on the front seat so that it does not restrict visibility?
Then which seat is the safest on the rear couch? Theoretically in the middle, because it is farthest from the points of impact and during an accident there is less chance that the dent will reach that spot. Unfortunately, in practice, you may find that there is no isofix or three-point belts in the middle, or the space is simply too narrow.
If not the middle one, it is advisable to carry the child behind the passenger. Why? Because in the case of parallel parking or emergency stopping, it is easier and safer to open the door from this side.
Should a parent sit in the back? Don’t. It is safer when the parent is in front, for several reasons:
- The seats in the front are safer for adults, because we have extra airbags (which you absolutely have to turn off anyway if a small child is traveling in the front).
- During a possible accident, our body can do harm to children (for example, limbs moving inertly, but we write about the movement of various objects during an accident later in the article).
- Let’s not deceive ourselves, sitting next to a child we are constantly doing something, moving, reaching something outstretching our hands – the belts will not be glued to our body during such acrobatics.
Besides, it’s a good idea to get your child used to traveling safely alone in the back from a young age. And if you want to keep a constant eye on your child, it’s a good idea to get rear-seat headrest-mounted mirrors instead of turning around.
Nothing loose in the car
Another cardinal sin of drivers – lots of banging stuff in the car. And we are writing about this by no means for aesthetic reasons, but for safety reasons. And this applies to everyone, not just families with children :)
We were once in such a device – a car spinning around to see how they secure the belts during a rollover. Kamila asked if she could take her purse inside, and the gentleman operator eagerly replied: well sure, you’ll see what happens during an accident. We saw. We saw how things just fell off. But that’s okay, because the whole experiment didn’t take into account the fact that ordinary, small objects gain weight and fly all over the cabin during a real accident.
And so, for example, a smartphone can weigh 5 or even 10 kg during an accident, a bottle of water some 60 kg…. can you imagine how an impact with something like this can end up? Ordinary objects hit a person with tremendous speed and force and can really cause a lot of harm.
So let’s keep our car in order! Let’s hide items in glove compartments, books in seat pockets, and let’s generally stick to the rule that we put everything possible in the trunk (covered!). So it’s good if there are plenty of such storage compartments in the car, especially lockable ones. And in general, let’s forget about heavier items, glass or sharp.
Yes, we know that especially when traveling with children it can be heavy, so sooner give a mascot or a small, thin book than an A4 book with thick pages. If you use a tablet then it is certainly better to permanently mount it on the headrest than to give it to the children to hold in their hands (although here we have no experience, as we do not yet use it ourselves for the time being).
No concessionary fare for short sections
I don’t fasten my seatbelt because I’m only driving 3 kilometers to the nearest store. Nothing will happen! Or I’ll put the groceries on the front seat, it will be easier for me to take them home. And the worst: I will buy a cheap car seat for grandma to pick up from the nursery/preschool. Whether I just had a glass of wine, I will drive you home by car.…
Did you know that most accidents just happen in close proximity to home? Time for 2016 statistics:
As many as one-third of all dangerous traffic incidents take place within about 1.5 km of a residence, and half within an 8 km radius!
More than half of accidents involving children occur within 10 minutes of home!!!
Now see for yourself how much is that 1.5 km or 8 km from your place of residence…. Unfortunately, if you have an accident, there is as much as a 33% chance that it will happen within a 1.5 km radius of your home.
Tires are something we should check regularly. Check the condition of the tire, measure the pressure, especially before a long trip. We always go to the station before a trip to check that we have the right pressure in EVERY tire – and it’s best to just do it after every fill-up. Proper pressure ensures proper adhesion to the roadway, so this is extremely important.
As many as 6% of accidents on expressways and highways have their cause precisely in improperly inflated tires or their condition.
(…) A study, conducted on Polish roads by well-known tire companies in 2008, showed that in more than 70% of cases the cars tested had incorrect tire pressure.
Another simple thing that affects our safety.
This is where systems in newer cars also come to the rescue. And maybe it’s a detail, but we like how technology takes us out of many aspects of life and, for example, checks tire pressure automatically and tells us right away that something is wrong. It’s not something that made us choose a particular car model, but it’s something that’s now standard for us with every change.
Another important point to keep in mind is, of course, to change the tires for the right season and control tire wear. The so-called. Bald tires are a huge driving hazard.
Modern safety systems in the car
Since we’ve already called out modern solutions in the point above, let’s go with it.
Yes, we bought a new car from the showroom. A car that is reliable, saturated with electronics, that takes care of our safety. We paid for the car to behave appropriately in a dangerous situation, and from the perspective of several years already (this is our next car from the showroom) we can write that the comfort and peace of mind of traveling is worth the highest price.
Of course, nothing should lull the driver’s vigilance, as this is the basis, but technology helps a lot in many ways. It has happened to us several times that the car itself braked for us, because suddenly some car pulled out of the parking lot, or the car in front of us began to brake violently…. Unfortunately, the human response is slower than the system and this could end badly.
Thus, in newer cars we have systems that brake when an obstacle appears, hold the lane, have intelligent cruise control, and in the near future there will be systems that monitor the driver’s condition (although even these already partially exist!).
For example, among such security systems are:
- Various types of brake assist systems.
- The system avoids or mitigates collisions with other cars at intersections, with pedestrians and cyclists or even with large animals.
- Lane Keeping System.
- Driver distraction warning system.
- Uncontrolled lane change warning system.
- Traffic sign information system.
- Emergency Braking Assist System.
- or even warning other road users of our sudden braking.
A lot of it, and it’s not even half of the current capabilities. ABS, traction control and the like are not even mentioned anymore ;)
The Volvo also has an SOS option, a button above the mirror that we can push as soon as something happens. And when the car is involved in an accident and the airbags deploy, an operator from Volvo will call us himself through this system and wait for a response. If you don’t hear from anyone, services are automatically dispatched to the scene of the accident! Ba, they even ring when you set off the alarm in the car (believe us, it happened to us when we were on a trip and the car was left in the airport parking lot a few hours earlier ;-)).
Of course, we realize that for many people a newer car saturated with technology is out of price range, but we write about it because it’s worth looking around at the options available. The car can be leased or rented on a long-term basis (also available to individuals). It is especially worth looking at the second option, because depending on the brand or rental company, we have a package of benefits included in the price (tires, insurance, maintenance, fuel cards), etc. Well, and let’s remember that we have an efficient and reliable car, and if anything happens, everything is covered under warranty or insurance.
Another, arguably more popular, option is to buy a used car….
Safe used car
Buying a used car can be a morass. Honestly, in our opinion, one can never be 100% sure that the car is in working order or has no accidents behind it. When buying a used car, you have to assume that it has already passed its life, and the chance that it has some sort of bump behind it is greater the older and more driven the car. And while the small scratches themselves may not be a concern, the “guts” should be. And unfortunately, a car is often judged by scratches, paint thickness and overall visual condition.
In our opinion, the most important thing is to check that the car is safe and in good working order. Unfortunately, we are not mechanics, so we will not flood you with tips and what to pay attention to, but we will give one rather telling example.
Nowadays, airbags are standard, and manufacturers are outdoing themselves with more and better protection (such as curtains or knee protection). However, at this point we would like to draw your attention to another important point: the technology of belt tension and airbag deployment is truly Swiss precision and calculations every millisecond! Everything has to work perfectly, so the seat belt pretensioners work first, and the sensors react to the impact itself and activate (or not) the appropriate airbags. Everything has to come together and work within a few milliseconds to ensure the protection of the driver and passengers.
Now imagine that the car is after a serious accident, and the entire system has been installed so that simply no indicator light will come on in the car. The example may be quite drastic, but it is meant to make you aware that when buying a car from an unknown source, such unpleasant surprises can await you.
Here we recommend for viewing one of the episodes of 7 Meters Under the Ground about car dealers(click).
So how do you buy a used car? Preferably from a 100% verified source (family, friends who know the entire history of the car). If we were faced with the choice of a used car, we would probably aim for a model that is several years old, but we would use a proven company (or preferably even two) to help us comprehensively check the car, or we would simply go to an authorized service center or dealerships for used cars (as Volvo also does, for example).
If you are interested in what cars are the safest, there are plenty of articles on the Internet about Euro NCAP crash test results. We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t dig deeper and find some criticism of these tests. That’s how we ended up with the Folksam ranking, which analyzes data from real road accidents, not those in test conditions. In addition, it takes into account multi-year cars and analyzes taking into account material deterioration/wear (such as corrosion). So if you’re looking for a car that’s a few or more years old it’s worth taking a look at this ranking, and for reading we recommend this article.
Driving technique improvement courses
We highly, highly recommend, especially before the winter period to go to at least a one-day driving improvement course.
The knowledge and experience we gained there helped us a lot in understanding what can happen while driving, how to react in dangerous situations, how to get out of a skid, etc.
As part of such courses, participants learn how to properly fasten seat belts, how to adjust the seat and steering wheel – seemingly basics, but we won’t even officially admit here how many mistakes we made before ;) You will learn at what angle you should have your legs and why the seat should be moved as far away from the steering wheel as possible.
On top of that, it’s good when you do the course on your own car – you get to know it, know how it will behave in different situations and finally understand what it really means to press the brake decently.
If you are looking for a gift idea for Christmas or any other occasion, a voucher for such a course is a great option.
We hope that with this somewhat lengthy article we have encouraged you to make small changes that will significantly affect travel safety.
We, in terms of security, do not apply any concessionary tariffs. We would rather give up something, but buy a safer car seat, buy better insurance, or a safer car.
Because when someone asks why we bought a Volvo, we answer that they are one of the safest cars on the market. And everyone has probably heard about Volvo’s goal of ensuring that no one traveling in a new Volvo is killed or seriously injured in an accident (you can read more about that here)
It is less important to us that we have performance or exclusive extras…. more important is that we have a reliable car in which we feel safe and comfortable.
And we hope that after this reading you will feel better and safer in your car, which will make both your further and closer trips more pleasant!
We also recommend you:
- How to rent a car for vacation?
- 7 TOO MANY gadgets for kids on the go and ONE thing you can’t miss!
- Safe travels with a child, or about RWF car seats
- Sheep’s giant slalom – or by car around the Faroe Islands
The entry was created in cooperation with Volvo.