It’s back to school, and ‘Mom’s Taxi’ is back in business, from daily school runs to after school activities (for some, it’s university move-in day!). But with all this driving, comes a whole lot of responsibility too.
When your children’s safety is at stake, you need to understand your SUV and what you can do to ensure a risk-free school year.
The minivan is dead! Due to its growing popularity, SUVs and crossovers have become the preferred choice of wheels for yummy mummies and hockey moms as the primary source of family transportation. While they seem suited to the task, there are some question marks around the safety of SUVs.
The hefty weight difference between your Range Rover or Discovery Sport and traditional passenger vehicles will more often than not, give you a false sense of security.
Due to the elevated driving position, SUVs require different driving techniques than cars, like slower cornering, smooth steering wheel motion and a better braking distance. With SUVs, it’s often an over-reaction to an emergency (like a tyre blowout) that can wreak havoc.
SUVs have different handling characteristics than normal cars and demand special driving techniques. That’s why it’s critical to become familiar with the SUV safety features included in your vehicle.
SUV safety is a must. Follow these safety tips to maintain control of your vehicle…
- Allow yourself more room to pass in your SUV than you would in a sedan. You need more time to accelerate and decelerate in an SUV.
- Adjust your side and rearview mirrors to minimise or eliminate all blind spots and check it often. Also, adding a convex mirror is not a bad idea.
- Know your vehicle’s ability and performance. Practice driving in an empty parking lot or if you drive a Land Rover, make an appointment with your local Land Rover Experience to learn all the ins and out of your vehicle.
- Allow greater distance behind the vehicle in front of you to allow more braking distance, necessary for a heavy vehicle.
- Slow down! Back to school means sharing the road and school days bring congestion. There are school busses, kids of bicycles and fellow parents also in a rush before work. It’s vitally important for drivers to slow down and pay attention when kids are around – especially before and after school.
- Make sure everyone wears a seat belt. SUVs have larger window openings than can more easily eject passengers from the vehicle.
- Secure any loose objects inside your SUV. In a crash or sudden stop, they can become lethal projectiles.
- Maintain firm and constant pressure on the braking pedal when doing a sudden stop with ABS brakes.
- Schools often have specific drop-off procedures. Make sure you know them. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location. Don’t double-park, it blocks visibility; don’t load or unload children across the street from the school; and carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
- During November last year, amendments were made to the National Road Traffic Regulations forbidding the transport of children in the goods compartment of vehicles, including the back of a bakkie of the open boot of an SUV.
- In the event of a tyre blow-out, keep calm and carry on! Try to stay away from the brake pedal and allow the drag of the failed tyre to slow the vehicle down. If you’re counterintuitive, step on the accelerator for an instant. The goal is to hit the accelerator just long enough to stabilise the vehicle.