Almost a quarter of UK parents have admitted to leaving kids on their own in a car for as long as 27 minutes
The report, by Kwik Fit Insurance Services, revealed that dads are more likely to do this.
Worryingly, one in six parents admitted to locking their kids in the car as punishment – while more than a quarter said they simply forgot about them.
Even those as young as five are left unattended, the study revealed.
The main culprits are younger parents, with a whopping 42 per cent of 18 – 34 – year olds saying they have left their youngsters in the car.
Child behaviour expert Richard Curtis said: “The results of this survey are very shocking.
“While 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.”
“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.”
While there are currently no laws in place that ban parents from leaving their children unattended in a car, last year saw a father of five convicted of child abuse for the leaving his two-year old in the car.
Tim Haines was arrested and prosecuted for “wilful exposure of a child to risk of significant harm” after he popped into the pharmacy to buy some Calpol.
Lawyers say it is an offence to “neglect or abandon a child under the age of 16 for whom a parent or carer has responsibility”.
But the law remains unclear as to what exactly amounts to abandonment.
It’s not just leaving children in a car that can get you in trouble.
Figures published in March revealed that a parent is arrested every day on suspicion of leaving one or more of their children at home alone.
Cases involved children aged from just a few weeks to 14 years old.
The statistics follow a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and were provided by police forces in England and Wales.