Parents love their children and feel an incredible drive to protect them at every turn. All they want is to keep the kids safe. They read crash safety ratings before buying a new car, they buy updated child safety seats and they put “Baby on Board” signs in their windows to let others know to be careful.
Then they put those same kids in danger as they succumb to distraction. Studies have found that most parents get distracted by their children while they drive. This is in addition to issues with cellphones and other common distractions. In this sense, parents are actually a high-risk group, no matter how much they care about safety.
Below are a few ways they can focus on safe driving, protecting themselves, their kids and everyone else on the road:
Never use the phone in the car
Put it away. Turn it off. Put it on silent mode. Do whatever it takes not to get your phone out in the car, even if you’re just sitting at a stoplight. Life does get busy with your children’s activities, play dates and school drop-offs, but never try to multitask by using your phone.
Use spill-proof snacks
One of the easiest ways to keep the kids calm in the car is to give them snacks. However, watching your child dump snacks or drinks all over the back seat is a terrible distraction. Using spill-proof containers can limit the damage, ensure you do not panic, and help you keep your eyes on the road.
Create rules and stick to them
Tell your children how serious driving is. Tell them not to touch you to get your attention, not to scream and not to do anything else that takes your eyes off of the road. Create a set of rules for how they should interact with each other in the car. Stick to them. If you must, set up punishments that you can hand out when you get home for kids who break these rules.
Do as much as you can in advance
You do not want to find yourself turning around backward to hand your toddler a snack while you drive down the freeway. You do not want your child yelling up to ask for a book or a toy that you forgot in the front seat. Hand out snacks, toys, tablet computers, MP3 players and whatever else your children want in advance. Make sure that, when you start driving, all you have to think about is driving.
Following these rules yourself is a great way to protect yourself and your kids. Unfortunately, not all parents do it. If you get in an accident with a distracted parent, make sure you know what legal options you have.