You probably take special care to drive safely when you have your kids in the car, but driving with children can be tough. A baby might start crying, a toddler might drop his comfort object on the floor, a school-aged child might be needing a snack or a teenager might be starting arguments. Children of all ages can make you feel pressured to engage in driving distractions, and sometimes they become distractions themselves.
If you engage in distracted driving, you could be putting yourself, your children and other motorists at risk of severe injuries. However, it isn’t always practical to leave your children at home, so what can you do to improve your safety when driving with your children?
Prepare for your drive as much as possible
One way you can help minimize driving distractions is to anticipate your likely distractions and take steps to avoid them before you even start the engine. For example, consider:
- Feeding your children before you begin driving
- Placing a trash bag within reach of the backseat
- Leaving water bottles in the vehicle
- Setting up music
- Adjusting temperature controls
Set rules for car rides
Although it may be possible to prevent some distractions, others can be more difficult to avert. Depending on the distractions you typically experience, it may be necessary to set rules for your car.
Some rules that you might consider setting, include:
- No yelling or arguing in the car
- No horseplay in the car
- The driver cannot take their hands off the steering wheel while driving
- The driver cannot take their eyes off the road while driving
When in doubt, pull over to a safe place
There may be little you can do to quiet a crying baby if you cannot take your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, and although you may tell your kids they can’t argue, it can be a difficult rule to enforce while driving. Although it can be inconvenient, sometimes the best thing to do is to pull over in a safe place to tend to your baby or resolve the argument.
This is because these behaviors take your mind off the task of driving. Cognitive distractions, like these, can be just as dangerous as manual or visual distractions. By pulling over safely and stopping your vehicle, you can take the time you need to address any possible distractions, so that when you get back on the road, your full attention can be on driving.
Sometimes, driving with children can be challenging. However, by doing what you can to avoid driving distractions, you can help keep everyone in your vehicle safe.