You can have laws against using cell phones while driving to prevent auto accidents. In fact, if all goes well, Indiana will soon have a ban on text messaging while driving. However, what do you do about the nonstop distractions parents face every day as they drive their children to school, and elsewhere?
For too long, the topic of distracted driving has focused on the distractions to teenagers and adults from the use of cell phones. Every day however, thousands of Indiana moms and dads drive their children to play groups, tennis lessons recitals, ballet classes, playgrounds, and more. These trips are filled with noise, tantrums and seemingly nonstop whining. They also cause the parent who is driving to experience severe stress, possibly affecting his or her driving abilities.
Consumer Reports has some ideas for parents to tune out distractions and drive safely with their kids.
• Pack plenty of snacks, toys and board games for the kids. Plan according to the duration of the journey. A day-long trip will require a variety of games and enough snacks and drinks to keep the kids from being bored.
• Switch off the cell phone while driving the car.
• Cultivate selective deafness. Tune out the noise, and don’t feel like you HAVE to turn around and tend to your kids when the car is in motion, unless you really need to.
• If the decibel levels are getting too high to concentrate on the road, pull over and deal with the situation before you start driving again. Remember, a stressed-out highly strung driver will be at a higher risk of errors and accidents.
• Whatever the distractions, make sure that your hands are on the steering wheel, and your eyes are focused on the road every second.
• Educate your children about safe behavior inside a car. Younger kids may not be receptive to this, but older children aged above 7 can be taught that drivers must not be distracted while they are driving.
Studies in the UK have shown that children in the car are the single biggest distraction for motorists – bigger than GPS systems and hand held cell phones. As Indiana personal injury lawyers and parents who’ve been there, we have to agree.
Nationwide, approximately 30 percent of deaths occur because of distracted driving. There is no breakdown of crash figures for distracted parents, but those numbers are probably very high and unreported, because a parent isn’t likely to blame his kids for a crash. With children being more vulnerable to injuries in an accident, it’s even more important that parents tune out distractions and drive safely.