Distracted driving is usually associated with texting, eating or fiddling with your radio or navigation system. If you have kids, though, they can be just as distracting as anything else. Here are five ways you can maintain your focus while driving with young passengers in the car.
1. Feed them beforehand
If your children often make food and drink demands in the car, feed them before putting the vehicle in drive. Either give them a meal at home, or offer a snack and a drink before you start the car. If you bring food in your vehicle, though, stick to options that aren't messy. The last thing you need while driving is for your child to spill a drink or throw food.
While you're at it, feed yourself beforehand, too. Eating while driving can increase the risk of crashing.
2. Keep them entertained
The longer the drive, the more likely your children will get bored. Helping them stay busy and entertained can keep them out of your hair.
If your vehicle is equipped with a DVD player and monitors, watching movies is a simple way to keep your kids entertained for the duration of a trip. Otherwise, find some games to play, such as I Spy, or store coloring books and other travel-friendly distractions in the seat pockets. Singing songs together is also a great distraction. If your kids are able, let them play DJ – they’ll be more interested in the songs and you won’t have to take your eyes off the road.
There's no guarantee that your kids won't get bored, but you'll likely have more time to focus on the road if they have something to do. Parents.com has a great list of some games you can try. Just make sure you don’t get distracted by the games!
3. Don't distract yourself
Distracted driving in any form is dangerous. Avoid answering your cellphone when you're behind the wheel. Calling and texting increases your risk of getting in an accident. If it's too tempting, consider putting your phone out of reach in the back seat or glove compartment.
Also, avoid too much interaction with the radio or navigation system unless you've come to a complete stop. Taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can put you and your kids in danger.
4. Take regular breaks on a long drive
If you're road-tripping, the longer you're in the car, the more antsy your kids will get. Stop the car every few hours to let your kids out to stretch and use the bathroom. Encourage your kids to get their wiggles out when you stop so they won't feel as restless when back in the car again.
5. Put a trash bag in the back seat
Kids love to throw things or simply drop them in place. If you hand out car snacks, keep a trash bag or other container in the back, and tell kids to dispose of wrappers and other garbage properly. If that's what's expected, they may be less likely to throw wrappers or drop bottles that roll around the car and wedge themselves in dangerous places, like under the break pad.
When you're driving with kids, your top priority is their safety. The irony is they may pose the biggest threat to their own safety by being distracting. Having a game plan before you start driving is always the best way to keep your kids from becoming a distraction.
This message is proudly sponsored by WMC Tri-State Medical Network.