Motoring Insight Magazine Online

Kwik Fit Research: Millions of parents leave children alone in car

Published: 8 September 2015

New research has revealed that nearly one in every four British parents, equivalent to 8.1 million people, have left young children alone in the car in the past, while out and about. 

The research from Kwik Fit Insurance also revealed that while parents generally leave their children for only a few minutes, they can often return to interior damage, car alarms going off or fist fights.

Of those parents who have left children in cars it appears that dads are a little more relaxed, leaving their children alone in the car for as long as 27 minutes. Mums, on the other hand, are slightly more ‘responsible’, only nipping out for a maximum of 17 minutes.

Doing quick tasks such as nipping to a shop and sleeping children were the top reasons for leaving the kids in the car, although it seems that younger parents have a sometimes more casual attitude in the reasons for leaving the children behind. Of those parents aged 18 to 34 who left their children in the car alone, one in six locked them in as a punishment and, even more worryingly, over a quarter left their children behind because they forgot about them.

Richard Curtis, parenting expert and ‘Kid Calmer’, said: "The results of this survey are very shocking. Whilst it is not appropriate to take a child out of a car whilst filling up with petrol, there are many other times where the children should go with their parents. There are a number of hazards that could pose a risk to children in an unattended vehicle, plus, as this report shows, siblings will often bicker or fight."

Mr Curtis added: "Children left alone in an enclosed space with a sibling will often get bored or frustrated with them, especially left without an activity to do. My advice would be to never leave children under the age of 12 unattended if you haven’t got line of sight to them, and even then not for more than a few minutes. Whatever parents decide, having some games and activities in the car is only ever going to be beneficial to keep little people occupied."

When parents leave their children they appear to be flipping a coin, according to the research, with half encountering some sort of mishap as a result.

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