As a parent, ensuring the safety of your family is a top priority, especially when it comes to driving.
Distracted driving has become a prevalent issue in today’s society, with smartphones, navigation systems, and other technological distractions vying for our attention on the road.
Unfortunately, that’s also lead to an alarming number of fatalities from distracted drivers.
Even the best drivers can occasionally be distracted on the road, but by implementing some simple techniques, you can help ensure that you’re driving safely and avoiding distractions, to help keep your family safe.
NEVER Text and Drive
One of the most common forms of distracted driving involves your smartphone. After all, pretty much everyone has a mobile phone, and texting has become a part of life.
A simple text only takes a few seconds to type and send. But with your car traveling at a mere 50 miles per hour, that’s enough to travel the length of a football field.
Virtually every state and province in North America has rules specifically related to texting and driving, and fines can vary from place to place.
And even places without a specific “no texting and driving” law can lay charges for distracted driving if you’re using your phone behind the wheel.
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated one in four distracted driving accidents are caused by texting behind the wheel.
Make it a habit to put your phone on silent and store it somewhere you can’t reach it as soon as you get into the car, so you’re not tempted to grab it if you do get a text.
From plugging your destination into your GPS system to tuning the radio to your favorite station, there are all kinds of activities that take your attention off the road.
So, before you even put your vehicle into drive, take some time to do all those little jobs so they won’t distract you later.
You may also want to adjust your mirrors, set the temperature, and make sure your seat is in a comfortable position.
By taking care of these jobs before you start driving, you’ll be better able to stay focused throughout your journey.
Use Technology Safely
While many types of technology can increase the risk of distracted driving, other tech can help ensure your focus stays on the road.
Take advantage of technology designed to reduce distractions while driving, such as hands-free calling and voice-activated controls.
You may also want to look into apps that can send automated responses to incoming calls and messages when driving.
Finally, consider using programs that monitor and report on driving habits, providing feedback on areas where improvement is needed.
Take Regular Breaks On Long Trips
If you’re heading on a road trip or another longer journey, taking regular breaks is important for both you and your children.
Kids are more likely to get unruly on long drives, whether because of hunger, boredom, or sleepiness. And, if your child is getting loud and restless, they’re much more likely to distract you from your driving.
Schedule stops every hour or two, and use the time to ensure your kids are fed and comfortable.
This will also gives you a chance to stretch your legs and refresh your focus.
Be Mindful of Emotional Distractions
It’s not just external factors that cause distracted driving. Mental and emotional distractions can be just as common.
Emotional stress and turmoil can significantly impair your driving. If you’re dealing with a high level of stress, it’s best to take some time to decompress before you get in the car.
If you’re often nervous behind the wheel, or find your stress increasing in bad traffic or weather conditions, consider investing in driving classes designed to give you more confidence.
When In Doubt, Pull Over
If you’re worried that doing something in the car might distract you from the road, the safest choice is always to pull over.
It doesn’t matter if it’s taking care of a screaming infant in the back seat, or grabbing a quick snack after a busy day of errands. Anything that takes your focus away from driving can lead to an accident.
It’s far better to be a few minutes behind schedule than to let yourself be distracted on the road, putting you and your children at risk.
Educate Your Kids
Finally, one of the most important ways you can avoid distracted driving as a parent is to educate your children about its dangers.
Children are distracting, there’s no getting around it. In fact, studies have shown that children create four times the distraction to drivers as adult passengers do.
But, by teaching them from an early age why you need to keep your focus on the road, they’ll be more likely to quiet down when asked, or save complaints for later.
Have clear guidelines for behavior before you all get into the car. Rules like keeping conversation to a minimum, avoiding disruptive activities, and making requests of the driver can all help minimize distractions.
As an added bonus, this sets a precedent that will help ensure your children practice safe driving habits themselves in the future.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to lead by example and prioritize safety on the road.
By following these distracted driving safety tips, you can significantly reduce the risks of distracted driving and keep your family safe on their travels.
Remember, safe driving isn’t just about protecting yourself, or even your family – it’s about protecting everyone who shares the road with you.