Photo: Momstown Edmonton
“Mommy, I need my cup”
“Mommy, she took my toy!”
“Mommy, the baby dropped her soother!”
Sound familiar? Kids are inherently distracting, aren’t they? Those sweet faces in the rear view mirror, those tiny high pitched voices behind us while we attempt to safely get from Point A to Point B.
Did you know that children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers, and infants are eight times more distracting than adults as passengers?
We recently completed a distracted driving course with the Alberta Motor Association for their #NoDistractions campaign aimed at reducing distractions for parents while operating a vehicle. During the course, we had to hand a child a juice box and reach for something on the ground in the back seat, all while texting and taking selfies. My confession: I was doing these seamingly harmless things for my kids nearly daily. Now, we all know that no one needs to take a selfie or send a text while driving but do we consider the things we do for our kids necessary? Are they really?
I think we all know that the answer is a resounding no. We’ve come up with three ways to reduce the amout of distractions for parents on the road:
1. Plan Ahead
Especially on long drives, we know kids will get hungry, thirsty or bored. Who can blame them? Plan ahead to have snacks and drinks in a spot that is easily accessible and in containers that don’t require your help.
2. Pull Over
What kids lack for in dexterity they make up for in cuteness. Am I right? They never seem to be able to hold onto things for long and listening to them scream for the twenty minute drive might just be worth the 30 seconds it will take to pull over and hand them what they need. However, we have a one time rule in our vehicle. I’ll pull over once for something that they need, after they they have to…
Avoid reaching into the back seat and help teach your kids natural consequences and patience. When they drop something, they might not get it back until we arrive at our destination. Yes, there might be some screaming, but in the end it’s for everyone’s safety.
The #NoDistractions campaign truly resonated with me. At the end of the course they asked us to complete the following sentence:
I choose to not drive distracted because….
My kids are watching.
After all, this isn’t about avoiding tickets or obeying the law, this campaign is about our families. Whether we realize it or not our kids are internalizing what is right and wrong from us. It’s as much my job to keep them safe as it is to teach them how to be safe.
Kristin Heimbecker was a special guest of Reader’s Digest and AMA, helping to raise awareness against distracted driving. She blogs at momstown.ca.