A University of Michigan study recently published in Academic Pediatrics revealed that 90% of parent drivers reported engaging in at least one of 10 driving distractions while driving with their children as passengers. But the distractions parents engage in most, even more than cellphone use, are those that revolve around their kids, from giving them food to picking up a toy. Like texting while driving, such distractions take both the driver’s hands of the wheel and eyes off the road, increasing the risk of a crash.
As you drive around town this summer or go on a road trip to your summer vacation spot, stay safe by following a few tips on how to keep your kids from being driving distractions:
- Bring kids into the loop. Before you hit the road, let your kids know that you can’t be distracted while driving, which means no reaching into the back seat while driving.
- Set expectations. Prevent distracting whining by sharing the day’s agenda, such as travelling time and stops, with your kids and explaining the rules, such what happens when they drop a toy, music rules, rewards for good behavior, and consequences for misbehaving.
- Provide plenty of activities. Prevent boredom and more whining by keeping your children occupied with activities such as books, games, toys, a portable DVD player and DVDs, or scrapbooking activities.
- Set up before you go. Place snacks, activity supplies, and a bag for trash in reach before you hit the road so that you don’t have to find and hand anything to your kids while driving. Also make sure everyone is buckled up before you go.
- Stop when kids require attention. Rather than reaching back to pick up a toy, adjust a seatbelt, or give any other attention to your kids, safely pull off to the side of the road.
- Rest. Stop every now and then so that everyone can stretch and move around. Bring a frisbee, soccer ball, or other outdoor toys and sports equipment for the kids. Giving kids something to do at rest stops gives them something to look forward to and releases pent up energy. And it just might tire them out enough for a nap.
- Have fun! Unplanned stops in small towns or at local attractions make road trips more exciting, especially for kids. They’re less likely to get antsy and ask, “Are we there yet?” if they can get out of the car and explore a bit.
Don’t forget to put away your phone and avoid other distractions while driving to ensure a safe trip!