According to AAA (American Automobile Association), more than a million and a half car accidents each year can be attributed to driver distraction. Around 24% of these crashes are a direct result of drivers being distracted by children in the backseat.
As anyone who has traveled with children can attest, youngsters in the back seat can be a big distraction, from arguing with siblings and complaining of hunger to acting out due to boredom. Add this to many of the other distractions drivers are faced with, and your chances of having an accident go up drastically. The following are some tips to help you avoid distraction while on road trips so you can stay focused on the road. Staying focused means you’ll keep your family healthy and safe so everyone can enjoy their vacation to the fullest.
Just say no to cell phone use
Although it’s a good idea to carry a fully charged cell phone for emergencies while on the road, talking on a cell phone while driving is a major distraction, and the cause of far too many accidents. To keep your children and other family members safe, avoid using your cell phone while driving. Wait until you take a break or when another family member has taken over the driving to make a call. There is no phone call that is as important as the safety of your family.
If, for some reason, you find you absolutely have to make a phone call while driving, be sure to use a hands-free headset. Although, talking on the phone is in itself distracting, at least you will be able to keep both hands on the wheel.
Take regular breaks
Fatigue, hunger, boredom, the need to use a bathroom, and stiff muscles can all be distracting to a driver, whether it affects them or their children or other family members. Plan on taking regular breaks during a long car ride to avoid these things. Drivers will find they are much less distracted when everyone has had the opportunity to stretch, get some fresh air, run around a bit, and use the bathroom.
It’s also a good idea to eat meals and snacks while taking a break rather than while on the road. Eating can be distracting, and it keeps a driver’s hands off the wheel. Passing drinks and food over the seat to your kids is also distracting, and eating in the car can be a choking hazard for your child.
Keep children occupied
It’s unrealistic to expect your energetic youngsters to keep still and be on their best behavior when they have nothing to do on a long road trip. Children who are bored and restless are bound to be a distraction for the driver. Keeping your children occupied while traveling is the best way to avoid this. When packing for your family trip, don’t forget books, travel games, CDs, and DVDs. It’s a good idea to give children some new toys, books, or movies to keep them occupied, as something unique to them is likely to hold their interest longer than something they play with every day. Engage your children in conversation about the things you see out the car windows. Games such as “I Spy” are a great way to do this.
It doesn’t matter if your travel time is one hour or ten hours, if you are planning to take a road trip with your children in tow, make safety your top priority. Plan ahead so you can keep distractions to a minimum. Avoid using your cell phone, take regular breaks, and keep your child occupied, and you’re more likely to get to your destination with everyone safe and sound.