Is it OK to leave a child alone in the car while paying for petrol?
Your child is in the back of the car but you need to fill up.
The question keeps running through your mind and you don’t know what to do.
What does the law say?
Do you leave them alone in the car, or take them with you while you juggle the pump, fill the tank and head inside to pay?
One Mumsnet user sparked massive debate on the issue, the Derby Telegraph reported, after she discovered her husband leaves their 20-month-old toddler in the car while he goes into the kiosk to pay.
The original poster wrote: “Please settle this disagreement for me and my DH [dear husband]!
“Leaving toddler (20 months) in the car while you go and pay for petrol. Would you do it? I would not (unless I was using pay at the pump, then I wouldn’t get her out as I’d be stood right next to the car) but DH says he would and has.
“I’m horrified that he left her and have said I really don’t want him to do that again, he thinks I am ridiculous and ‘it’s only for two minutes’.”
The debate seems to have divided opinion, with some berating the mum for being “overprotective” and “over the top”, while others agree with her, Somerset Live reports.
‘They’ll be fine’
“I leave mine. What is going to happen to them? I have my car keys with me so the car itself could not be stolen (the door is probably open though) and I can see the car through the petrol station window so would notice if someone tried to kidnap them,” wrote one user.
‘Accidents can happen’
Others agreed with original poster, writing: “I would never leave my child in the car! I agree with you.”
And: “I would definitely take my toddler with me to pay. Every time.”
Another wrote: “I work in a petrol station and a mum left her four year old child in the car while she came into the shop to pay. The child got out of her seat and released the hand brake, the car then rolled forward into the electricity box.
“The child was unhurt but the car was damaged and so was the electricity box. Other customers have also left hand brakes off and cars have rolled into each other. So accidents can happen, I wouldn’t leave a child in a car.”
But what does the law say?
According to, it is illegal to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.
Parents are urged to use their judgement on how mature the child is before they decide to leave them alone – whether that be in a car or at home.
It warns that parents can be prosecuted if they leave their child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.
Chris Cloke, head of safeguarding in the communities at the NSPCC, told the Hull Daily Mail : “When left alone in a vehicle, young children can very quickly start to get anxious and distressed.
“Even if they’re sleeping peacefully when you leave they could well wake up and get very upset when you’re not there to look after them.
“They would not be able to protect themselves in an emergency and may even try to leave the vehicle to find you.
“As children become older parents need to exercise their own judgement. if they can see the car the whole time it may be sensible depending on your child’s maturity.”Every child is different and every parent knows their child’s readiness to be left in this scenario.