Sponsored by Michelin
Did you know that there are approximately 9 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries every single day in the US from crashes involving a distracted driver? You already know that you shouldn’t text or talk on the phone while you’re driving, but when you have small children in the car, there are many other types of distractions to consider.
The CDC defines distracted driving as anything that takes your focus away from the road, including visual distractions that take your eyes off the road, manual distractions that cause your hands to leave the wheel, and cognitive distractions that take your mind away from the task of driving. Crying, hungry or bored kids can be just as much of a distraction as your mobile device, but it’s important to make sure your focus is always on keeping them safe while in the car. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding distracted driving and increasing car safety for kids.
- Feed your baby before you leave or pack snacks for your toddler
Before you hit the road, make sure that your baby is fed and has a clean diaper. Once a child reaches the toddler stage, they can typically have their own snacks and a drink while traveling, which can be a great way to keep little ones busy and happy. Just be sure to choose age appropriate snacks with a low risk for choking, like fruit and veggie pouches, puffed cereal snacks or yogurt tubes. Installing a special mirror designed for rear-facing car seats is an easy way to keep an eye on the situation while they snack.
- Be prepared with music and movies
According to Decidetodrive.org, using in-car DVD players, music streaming services and CD’s are fun ways to keep kids occupied during both long and short road trips. Think twice about giving a child your cell phone or other mobile device, however, as hitting the wrong button or swiping the wrong way can cause videos and music to stop playing – resulting in an upset child and a big distraction for you while driving.
- Stay focused on the road
Set a good example for kids by putting the phone away while you’re driving or setting it to “Do Not Disturb” before hitting the road. AAA also recommends practicing caution when using in-vehicle GPS systems and music streaming services, as these can be dangerous visual and mental distractions. If you absolutely must make a call or need to look up directions to your destination, find a safe place to pull over and do so.
- When all else fails, let your child cry
It may not be easy, but when your child is upset in the car, sometimes the best thing you can do is to keep driving until you reach a safe spot to pull over and tend to them. An upset child may be bored, hungry or not feeling well, but as long as they are restrained in a car seat, it’s safer to keep driving than to turn around to comfort them while in motion.
Learn more about protecting your precious cargo in our free online parenting class about Vehicle & Car Seat Safety sponsored by our partner Michelin.