In 2020, over 3,000 people were killed in the United States because of distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the kicker is these car crashes were completely preventable; avoiding the distractions could have saved a life. Unfortunately, when you become a parent with kids in the car, focusing on the road is even more difficult.
Changing the song, checking a notification, or munching on french fries may seem like quick tasks that can’t do any harm. But, the truth is, if you’re multitasking (driving AND doing anything else), you’re distracted driving. And, distracted driving is extremely dangerous for you, your passengers, other drivers, and even pedestrians.
Since many are not aware of just how easy it is to lose focus while driving, we’ve dedicated this post to distracted driving. We’ll list common distractions while driving you may not realize are a big deal. Then, we’ll give you some tips to avoid putting you, your family, and your community at risk. Here’s we go:
11 Common Distractions While Driving
Types of Distracted Driving
Using Your Phone
Whether it’s talk or text, navigation or music, using your phone (or any other hand help device) while driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do when in the driver’s seat. And, it’s super common! We might think of only teen drivers using their phones, but 81% of Millennial and Gen X drivers admit to using their phone while driving. YIKES!
Changing Audio or Climate Controls
Anytime you glance off the road, you travel a significant distance. If you’re driving 45 miles an hour, you’ll drive over 300 feet in just five seconds. Wow! For this reason, it’s best to keep your eyes off the radio and air conditioner.
Eating and Drinking
Both eating and drinking are dangerous when driving. This is especially true when you’re eating something messy. Any amount of time spent dipping nuggets in some ketchup or unscrewing a soda bottle is time spent with your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.
Sorry, moms. I know you all are the ultimate multi-taskers and pumping is a necessity, but this is NOT the place to do it. Spillage, part adjustments, and unexpected pain can be real distractions. And many hands-free pumps have been known to pop off when too full. You shouldn’t be crashing over spilled milk!
Kids Crying or Yelling
It might be time to pull over if you have an older kiddo throwing a fit or a baby crying. The anxiety and stress that comes with screaming kids, especially while you’re trying to drive a motor vehicle, can be both overwhelming AND distracting.
Daydreaming or Thinking Ahead
Being distracted while driving refers not only to taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the steering wheel. You must also be focused on the road at all times! Thinking about what to cook for dinner or daydreaming about your next family vacation could mean you miss an exit. . . or a pedestrian crossing the street. Stay sharp.
Looking and Reaching for Something
If your lip gloss rolled onto the passenger seat or your toddler’s blanket fell, forget them. At least for now. Don’t reach to get the items. Your eyes will be off the road, and it can be very easy to steer into danger. Pull over if you need to retrieve something!
Studying Things Outside the Vehicle
You know the saying about taking your eyes off a car accident—it’s tough! In fact, we’re distracted by a lot of things beyond the road outside the vehicle. Reading billboards, investigating accidents, or scouting new businesses can all distract you from safe driving.
Any Moving Objects
Whether it’s a pet or a loose water bottle, objects moving around your car can take your attention away from the road. Make sure you’ve safely secured everyone and everything before driving. Pull over if something comes loose!
If you’re really upset or stressed, it’s almost impossible to focus on road safety. This is especially true if you’re crying! But an obsessing or grieving mind will completely take your attention off the task at hand as well. So, avoid driving if you are feeling extreme emotions.
Many studies have proven that driving while sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Your response time slows, your eyes flutter off the road, and you can’t focus on the driving. NEVER drive while excessively drowsy.
Distracted Driving Solutions
Though the tech age has brought on new distracted driving concerns, it’s also provided some solutions! If you struggle with distracted driving, try some of these tools to help you stay focused and keep your family safe.
Drive Mode Apps
Putting away our phones would stop many distracted driving accidents. But, if you need your phone for navigation or other purposes, your phone will be out and tempting to grab! So, the app store is full of apps to help you shut off the unnecessary distractions.
Safe2Save encourages you to drive without using your phone, and when you do, it rewards you with points to use at local businesses! DriveMode senses when you’re driving and automatically silences all notifications. It’ll send auto replies too, telling your loved ones you’re driving if they call. These apps are the perfect accountability tool for driving safely.
Do Not Disturb Mode
Your phone has a handy “Do Not Disturb” mode. While this function is activated, you won’t get any notifications. You can even set your phone to send out auto-replies to let your friends and family know you can’t answer while driving. Usually, while in this mode, Siri or Google Assistant will take voice commands! So if you really need to change the song or add a stop on your route, opt for this option to avoid taking your hands and eyes off the wheel.
Car Mode for Music and Navigation
Crashes involve all types of distracted driving, not just texting! Luckily, many apps on your phone like Navigation and Spotify already have “Car Mode” built in. This allows you to control these apps with voice commands, so your eyes never go off the road and your hands never come off the wheel.
Voice Activated Virtual Assistants
Like we mentioned, the “Do Not Disturb” mode on many vehicles comes with a virtual assistant to help us manage navigation or music hands free. Sometimes, though, the virtual assistants that come with the phones can’t perform all functions. So, take a comprehensive virtual assistant like the Amazon Echo Auto or Anker ROAV Bolt (For Google) to stay more connected while also remaining focused!
9 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
While helpful apps and tools are great for holding you accountable for safe driving, we all need to take conscious steps to prevent distractions. Creating better habits and setting strict boundaries for yourself and your passengers will help you stay focused and stay safe. Here are some tips to avoid the dangers of distracted driving:
Set everything before you go, and leave it.
Set the air conditioner, music playlist, navigation, and anything else you need BEFORE you go. Make sure the kids have their car seat safe toys and comfort items ready and within reach. When you start driving, no switching the song, messing with your GPS app, or reaching for a lost lovey.
The playlist continues, the air cools, and navigation tells you where to go. (Even when you feel your way is better). Leave it all. This is a great way to prevent the most common distractions while driving!
Keep everyone safely buckled.
Roaming passengers, including pets, are unsafe for a LOT of reasons. They’re distracting for one. And if that wasn’t enough, they also put themselves and everyone around them at risk in a crash. Make sure everyone is safe in their seat, including your furry family members. And, if you’re not sure how to safely restrain everyone, check out our Insta!
Stow your phone out of sight and reach.
Many of us have a horrible habit of picking up our cell phones any time our hands are free. This means even when we don’t intend to use our phones when driving, we reach for it during a stop light.
Soon enough, the car behind you is honking to go, because the light has turned green. How silly is this? And, SO dangerous. To avoid that pesky habit of picking up your phone, store it somewhere out of reach, like the glove box or in your purse in the back seat.
Pull over if you need to do something.
Many car accidents happen when we’re doing simple, inconsequential things with our eyes off the road. Can you imagine a passenger in your car getting injured or worse, because you reached for your sunglasses? It’s never worth the risk.
If you need to do something, just pull over somewhere safe first. Then, you can get the kids what they need, adjust the AC, and pick up whatever is rolling on the floor.
We’ve tried. You cannot multitask while driving. It’s proven! Texting while driving is only one of many ways we try to multitask while commuting. Whether we’re putting on lipstick or writing a grocery list, multitasking is a super unnecessary risk when in a car.
Reduce stimuli if overwhelmed.
Driver distraction can come from extreme overstimulation! You know what I am talking about: the kids’ music is blasting, they’re yelling, the dog is barking—it’s all too much sometimes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unfocused, have some mandatory car quiet time. Turn off the music, have everyone turn down their voice, and pull over to calm the kids down if you need to!
Don’t drive if you’re too tired.
Driving safely means you’re alert. And you can’t be alert if you’re too tired. Now, mama, I know sleep deprivation with a newborn is real, and you have appointments to make, but it’s NEVER worth the risk. If you’re too tired, DO NOT DRIVE. It’s just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
Instead, ask a friend or family member to drive you to your destination. Consider booking a rideshare or taking public transportation if you’re lucky enough to have those options in your neighborhood. Or, simply call and reschedule. Nothing is worth that kind of risk! And, if you’re already on the road and feeling this drowsy, pull over somewhere safe, take a break, and call someone for help.
Take your time.
Don’t rush. That frantic, speedy commute to the school drop off line after a late start to the morning can be really risky. When you’re feeling stress like that and you’re trying to move fast, it’s easy to make a mistake. Slow down, and stay focused.
The world won’t end if your child arrives at school a little late or if you don’t have time to grab coffee before work. (Really, you’ll survive! DoorDash it to the office if you have to.) Take your time and get where you need to be safe.
Never compromise safety.
Most importantly, never compromise safety. Even when it’s a really important text or you only have a short task to complete. You never want to risk you and your children’s lives for something as frivolous as a social media notification or a work call. Stay focused on the road and avoid all the distractions you can.
Remember This List Of Distractions While Driving
What Are The Three Main Categories Of Distracted Driving?
There are three main types of driving distractions that can pull our full attention from the road and compromising safety.
- Visual- taking your eyes off of the road for any reason (checking your phone, looking at your navigation system, etc.)
- Manual- taking your hands off the wheel (handing your child a toy, eating, etc.)
- Cognitive- taking your mind off of driving (“what’s for dinner tonight?”, “how can I tackle this project at work?”, etc.)
Texting isn’t the only form of distracted driving. Anytime your attention is shared with driving, you’re a distracted driver!
Mommas, we know you’ve got a lot going on. In a day, you tackle more tasks than anyone else! You’re used to grabbing any available second and taking full advantage of it. But when you’re in the driver’s seat, that’s where all your focus needs to be. Keep your family safe by avoiding distracted driving and following all of our car seat safety tips.
Even if your kids are strapped correctly in their car seats, you’ve eliminated all projectiles, and your car is in tip-top shape, your family will still be at risk if you’re distracted while commuting. Keep your eyes and mind on the road and your hands on the wheel for a safe trip.
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