How to Handle Your Kids When They Are Distracting on the Road

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Tips

As you are driving, your baby is crying and you know that if you could just reach back and hand her a pacifier, she would be okay. Maybe you have older children that are begging (whining) for a snack and all you have to do is grab it out of your purse and hand it to them. No big deal, right? You’ll just reach back and tend to your children while semi-watching the road and then everything will be okay. As you reach back to grab the necessary object, the truck in front of you slams on his brakes. And guess what, you didn’t notice.

While this situation may seem extreme, it happens more than you may realize. In fact, according to a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of crashes involve some sort of distracted driving. They classify distracted driving into three categories: visual (eyes off the road), cognitive (mind off the road), and manual (hands off the steering wheel). When you are taking care of your children while driving, you are undoubtedly guilty of at least one of these infractions, if not all three.

So what is a parent to do?

Driving with children in the car is by far one of the most challenging things a parent does. You know that you need to keep your eyes, mind, and hands focused on the road, but that is often easier said than done. No parent likes to hear their kids crying or fighting. And if they ask for something, you want to give it to them. That is your nature. However, in order to keep you and your family safe, you must resist the urge and remember that being on the road is only temporary and you will be at your destination before you know it. Here are some suggestions to keep your kids entertained in the meantime:

 

    • Explain the situation to them. It is important that your kids understand why you are not meeting their needs. You could say something like this, “Mommy (Daddy) is in charge of keeping you safe while I am driving. I can’t get you a snack right now because it would not be safe. As soon as we get to the park I will get you a snack and some water, okay?”

 

    • Provide safe entertainment. Before you hit the road, give your children plenty of safe, age-appropriate entertainment to keep them occupied. This could include books, toys, or even an iPad mounted to the back of the seat that is playing their favorite movie.

 

  • Sing to/with them. This especially works with younger kids. If you can sing one of their favorite songs, they will probably calm down. If they are older, they may even join in and you can have a little traveling choir. You may feel a little goofy and end up with a sore throat, but that is a small price to pay for potentially saving the lives of your children.
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