Many parents believe they are better drivers when their kids are in the car. This may seem logical because most parents want to protect their children at all costs. However, distracted driving is still a problem for many families, and sometimes parents do not even realize they are doing it.
Do you frequently break up sibling squabbles or tend to a fussy baby as you drive? Is your rear-view mirror directed at your backseat instead of the road behind you? Do you distribute snacks, collect trash, or fix the DVD player while driving? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, you are not alone. However, these and other distractions could be putting you and your children at risk.
What counts as a driving distraction?
For most people, distracted driving is synonymous cellphone use. Although cellphone use while driving with kids is surprisingly common among parents, cellphones are not the only type of distraction parents face.
Any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel or your mind off driving is a dangerous distraction. Common distractions for parentsinclude:
- Passing out food and drinks
- Picking up dropped items
- Rummaging in a bag for an item
- Breaking up fights
- Changing DVDs or music
- Reaching into the backseat
How can I prevent these distractions?
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid almost all driving distractions. For example, you may consider feeding your children before driving, and making a family rule that no one will eat in the car. If eating isn't allowed in the car, you will not be tempted to distribute food, collect wrappers or pick up dropped or spilled food items. You also can avoid being distracted by the food itself.
You may also consider not touching any technology while driving. You can secure your cellphone out of reach and set up music or movies before you drive. If something happens and you feel you must interact with a device, pull over somewhere safe before doing so.
Pulling over can be a good strategy to deal with other distractions as well. For example, if your children are fighting, consider pulling over and explaining that you cannot drive safely while they are arguing. If you must sooth a crying baby or pick up something from the floor, pull over safely before doing so.
Driving distraction-free with kids in the car can be a challenge. However, your ability to focus on driving can make your travels safer for you and your children.