RAC warns parents of child lock-in danger

Article date: 15 March 2007

With a 10% rise1 in rescue call outs to childrentrapped inside cars, RAC is today urging motorists to avoid usingsensitive, electronic carkeys as makeshift toys.

RAC, one of the UK’s most progressive motoring organisationsrescued nearly 100,0002 motorists locked out of theirown cars in the last year.

An overwhelming 99% of RAC’s 1,650 patrols have attended alock-out in the last year, equating to an average 57 call outs perpatrol annually3, including some bizarresituations: 

  1. One RAC member’s dog inadvertently locked her out bytreading on the remote key, setting off the vehicle’scentral locking. 
  2. A heroic patrol freed eight thirsty people, packed inside aminibus, by buying them drinks then gaining access before drivingthem all to the nearest service station to use thetoilet. 
  3. An active RAC member stowed his keys up his exhaust pipebefore starting a half marathon. Unfortunately he had poked hiskeys just out of reach, leaving him locked out in his runninggear.
  4. One RAC patrol got more than he bargained for when rescuing aparrot that had become locked in a car. Not only was the birdflying freely in the vehicle, but it amused itself throughout bytalking to the patrol and playing with his lock outtools. 
  5. It’s not just parents who find their children locked in;a horrified grandmother had to call out an RAC patrol when her twoyear old grandson, who had been playing with her keys, locked herout of the car.

Sue Corden, 36, experienced the stress of a lock-in for herselfon New Year’s Eve at her parents’ house in Kent whenher two-year-old son, Rhys, trapped himself in her car. Sueexplains: “Rhys loves playing with shiny, noisy things and asa busy mum I didn’t think twice about momentarily giving himmy keys to play with while I unloaded the car. I was horrified andguilt ridden when I realised that my baby son faced the prospect ofspending New Year’s Eve locked inside our car. Luckily theRAC patrol arrived and got him out very quickly but he won’tbe getting his hands on my keys for a few years!”

RAC patrolman Prakesh Patel adds: “Modern technology may beconvenient but it is also highly sensitive so motorists need totake extra care. This is especially true when children arearound.

“Although it can be incredibly worrying if your child getslocked inside a vehicle, it’s very important to keep yourselfand the child calm if you can. It definitely helps us get the jobdone more quickly too!”

Richard Woolfson, leading child psychologist, says: “Parentsinstinctively fear any barrier between themselves and their child.That initial feeling of helplessness can be very disorientating buttry not to feel guilty – it’s just an accident andwon’t emotionally damage your child.”

Even for the most careful parent, mishaps can still happen. Tohelp, RAC has teamed up with Woolfson, who, after detailed analysisof patrol data, has put together advice for dealing with a"lock-in" situation:

  1. Stay calm. If you become agitated and distressed, yourchild will also become upset – they are heavily influencedby your reaction. 
  2. Stay in your child’s line of vision.They’ll find the lock-out less challenging if they can seeyou at all times so stay where they can always keep their eyes onyou.
  3. Talk calmly to your child. Chatting, singing, orreciting nursery rhymes in a normal tone of voice will reassurethem. 
  4. Use positive body language. A child reads a great dealfrom their parent’s non-verbal communication, so smile andmake good eye-contact with them. 
  5. Hide food out of sight. The sight of food will makeyour child hungry, even though they probably weren’tthinking of food at all before.
  6. Avoid crowding around the car. Discourage passers-byfrom gathering round; your child may become confused by a sea ofstrange faces staring in at them.
  7. Stay positive. Even if your child is upset during thelock-out, remind yourself – and them – that they willsoon be out of there. 
  8. Keep the incident in perspective. No long termpsychological damage will occur to your child as a result of thisone temporary upset. They’ll get over it very quickly.
  9. Don’t blame yourself. Try to learn positivelyfrom the incident instead of punishing yourself with guilt - takesteps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again in thefuture.


RAC Press office contact:
Sonia Clarke or NicoHolmes on 0207 908 6570/0207 908 6433, or Jon Day on 01603209287/07800 690555

Notes to editors:

1. Based on year-on-year increase, December 2004 toDecember 2006
2. RAC received 94,406 calls regarding lock-outs in 2006
3. The number of calls regarding lock-outs (94,406) divided by thenumber of UK patrols (1,650)

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is oneof the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providingservices for both private and business motorists. Whether it'sroadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning todrive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial servicesor up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able tomeet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC AutoWindscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC'spowerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leadingposition in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part ofAviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one inseven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC’s news releases and a selection of images are availablefrom the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

Back to top