Whether you’re a parent, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent or a good friend, chances are that you’ve driven at least once with a child in the backseat. You may even have driven with two children in the backseat. Was it an easy task? If you’re like the majority of adults who have driven with little ones in the car, you found yourself at least a bit distracted. You may even have found yourself majorly distracted.
A study was conducted in Australia quite a few years back that many people in the United States didn’t hear about. It wasn’t particularly groundbreaking, but it was the first of its kind. Researchers studied the effects that children in the car had on adult drivers. The outcome of the study will come as no surprise to parents: Children are a distraction when it comes to driving.
The study found that adults in the front seat did any number of things that took their eyes off of the road and chances are you do the same. From breaking up fights to reaching for snacks, adults in the front seat have a sort of double duty: referee and chauffeur. One interesting finding was that an adult with a child in the back seat is 12 times more likely to be distracted than a person talking on their cell phone while driving. That’s heavy.
Now that you know exactly how distracting children in the backseat can be, it’s a good time to discover how you can prevent those distractions. Here are some tips for you to use the next time you slip behind the wheel after buckling little ones into the backseat.
One of the biggest mistakes, and most dangerous, that drivers make is to adjust the rearview mirror so that it is looking at the children and not the road that lies behind the vehicle. Do not adjust the mirror unless it is to get a wider view of the road. Adjusting your mirror so that it allows you to see the kids is as dangerous as having no mirror at all.
If you have toddlers, you’re probably as guilty of this as anything else: reaching for a snack and handing it back to your kids. Digging for a snack will undoubtedly cause you to take your eyes off the road. Instead of being forced to dig through a bag for snacks, pack them and set them next to you on the passenger seat. That way you can grab them without taking your eyes off the road and hand them to the kids in back.
Have you ever heard of a “go bag”? If you watch FBI or other crime-type dramas on television, chances are you have. It’s a bag that is always packed and ready to go. Have your kids make a go bag for the car. It can be filled with a favorite hoodie or pillow, a small blanket, a few books, some crayons or anything else that will keep your kiddo comfortable and quiet in the back seat.
Your kids aren’t going to be perfect. They are going to bicker and argue, they are going to get hungry and, if you have one in diapers, need to be changed. Never try to attend to your children while you are driving. Pull over into a rest area or parking lot, try to avoid the side of the road, and do what you need to do while your car is stopped.
Your children have expectations for home. They have expectations for school. Have you taken the time to set expectations for the car? If you haven’t, now is the time. Establish rules that must be followed when your kids are in the car, and alert your children to the consequences of not following the rules. Some ideas may be to always go to the bathroom before they get in the car, to use an inside speaking voice at all times, to keep their hands to themselves and more. You know your kids and what they can handle so set the rules accordingly.
Kids and cars can be a joy and they can be a headache. If time on the road with your kids is more stressful than it should be, chances are that you are more distracted than you should be. Use the tips above to reduce or eliminate the distractions your kids are causing in the car and everyone will get where they are going safely.
If you are involved in an accident in Fort Lauderdale, you may have the right to compensation for injuries and property damage. Reach out to our team of car accident attorneys and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your accident and advise you of your legal rights. Call today.