If you were asked what the most dangerous distraction to drivers is, you’d probably say cell phones and other mobile devices. However, a recent study by an Australian university has found that cell phones aren’t in fact as distracting as young children. According to the study, over 76% of parents took their eyes off the road while driving in order to check on a child in the rear seat.
How You Can Drive Safely
Children can be demanding and ignoring them often doesn’t work. However, driving safely should be your primary concern. So the question is, how can you drive safely and still meet your child’s needs?
- Plan ahead. Parents often find that they have to glance in the rear view mirror, turn all the way around or even rummage for toys and snacks in order to meet their children’s needs while driving. However, taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds can result in a catastrophic accident that puts not only you and your child in danger, but other motorists as well. Take an extra minute before you leave to make sure your child has what she needs. You can avoid having to rummage or keep checking on your child by ensuring that your child has everything she needs within easy reach. This will ensure that she can not only reach for what she wants but that you can keep your eyes on the road while your child is in the back seat.
- You don’t have to tend to your child’s needs right away. Children can be demanding. Even with all the preparation you make, you may find that more needs pop up as you drive, particularly on long road trips. Just as you can’t prepare for everything, you can’t attend to all your children’s needs on the spur of the moment while you are driving. You don’t have to meet your child’s needs immediately. It is best to wait until you reach your destination or find a safe place to pull off the road to address them. Being patient and allowing yourself some extra time for stops along the way could save your child’s life.
- Teach your children about safety. We teach our children not to talk to strangers and how to stay safe while on the playground. You can teach them how to stay safe while on the road too. Let them know that it is important to behave while adults are driving and that you will always put safety ahead of their short-term wants. Practicing a safety-first approach will go a long way to helping your children appreciate the importance of letting you drive distraction free – and may even keep them from distracting you in the first place.