You have probably already heard about how dangerous driving distractions can be, and because you often drive with your children, you may be especially careful to avoid texting or talking on the phone while driving. You may even practice defensive driving to help prevent being in an accident with another driver who may be distracted. Although it is good to avoid cell phone use because it is a common driving distraction, you may not realize that you could still be distracted while driving.
Almost anything can be a driving distraction if it causes you to take your hands off the steering wheel, your eyes off the road or your mind off driving. This means that as a parent the most frequent driving distraction you face may be your children.
Are your kids causing you to be distracted?
Consider the last time you drove with your children. While you were driving, did you try to break up squabbles, calm a crying baby, pick up dropped items, pass out food or drinks, collect trash, or manage technology, like music or DVD players? Did you reposition mirrors so you could watch your children instead of traffic? Although you are not the only parent to do tasks like these, multitasking while driving can put your life, the lives of your children and the lives of other people on the road at risk.
Distracted driving caused over 3,400 deaths in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which adds that if you are driving at 55 miles per hour, being distracted for five seconds can cause you to travel the length of a football field without seeing the road.
Consider how you might prevent distractions
If you think your family may have some habits that have become driving distractions, consider what changes could be made to break those habits. If you are prone to handing out food and drinks, consider trying to feed everyone a snack before the drive. This may also cut back on the trash you end up collecting.
You may also consider laying down rules for riding in the car. One rule may prohibit you from interacting with electronics or picking up dropped items until you safely pull the car over.
Another rule may prohibit fighting in the car. If this rule is broken, you might consider finding a safe place to park until the fighting stops. In many cases, you can explain to your children that you cannot drive while their distracting behavior continues because distracted driving is dangerous for everyone.
As a parent, you are responsible for keeping your kids safe, and as a motorist, you are responsible for behaving safely on the road. You can accomplish both tasks by working to minimize all driving distractions, even the ones presented by your children.