The older that your children get, the more likely you are to feel like a chauffeur, driving them everywhere. It may seem like whenever you aren’t at work, you are behind the wheel of a car, taking your youngest to dance class or your middle schooler to their first dance.
Transporting your children and making sure they arrive everywhere they need to be safely is a big part of modern parenting. You may spend several hours every week in the car with your kids. During that time, it’s important that you have good rules in place so that you don’t increase your risk of getting into a crash.
Children are one of the biggest possible distractions in a vehicle
It only takes a few seconds for one child’s grabby hands to incite the other to start shouting, which might shock a parent driving in heavy traffic. Kids could intentionally rock the vehicle back and forth, make unpredictable noises or even do something unsafe, like unbuckle while the vehicle is in motion. Additionally, they often expect their parents to engage with them in conversation.
All of those behaviors cause a lot of distraction. When you interact with your kids in a vehicle, you increase your risk of getting into a crash. Researchers analyzing child-related distractions have found that parents with kids in their vehicles may be 12 times as likely to get into a wreck as other drivers. Having rules about loud noises and respectful behavior in the vehicle can reduce those distraction risks.
Are there any other steps you can take to keep your focus where it needs to be at the wheel?
Occupied children are less of a distraction
Parents who have vehicles with built-in entertainment systems can use such systems to minimize distraction. Setting the system up before the vehicle is in motion is important, as interacting with the entertainment system could be a distraction on its own.
Parents who don’t have built-in screens for their children and their vehicles may want to consider bringing special toys or books into their car that the children can enjoy while traveling with you. Older children and teenagers may like an opportunity to read a few chapters in a novel on their way to an after-school activity.
Thinking proactively about what causes driving risks can help you avoid causing a car wreck.