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One driving distraction that parents may inadvertently overlook

AdobeStock_155462288.jpegBy now, most people realize that texting and driving don't mix well. Sending or reading a text message while driving takes some of the driver's attention away from driving, which can increase the risk of them being involved in a serious accident.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone traveling at highway speeds can travel the length of a football field while they are looking down at their phone for five seconds. This is the average time it takes to send or read a text message. However, texting is not the only activity that could cause a five-second distraction.

What distractions are parents vulnerable to?

It can be important for everyone to drive distraction-free, but it may be especially important for parents who often drive with their children in the vehicle. Stowing your cellphone before driving can be a great step to help keep your family safe, but it can be equally important to avoid other types of distractions.

Anything can count as a distraction if it takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or mind off driving. Consider taking a minute to think about the last time you drove your family somewhere and what kinds of distractions you may have engaged in.

Many parents are especially careful to minimize their risks when driving with their kids. However, they often overlook one of their biggest distractions - their kids.

When their children are in the car, some parents feel like they need to continue tending to them as they would at home. Parents who are driving may hand out snacks, collect wrappers, pick up dropped items, settle sibling squabbles, change DVDs, adjust the radio and more.

What can parents do to better protect their family?

It is one thing to turn your phone on silent when you are driving or stow it out of your reach. Keeping kids from becoming driving distractions can be a little more complicated.

The specific distractions you usually face will affect the remedies you may try. Some remedies to consider, include:

  • Feeding your kids a snack before everyone gets into the car
  • Making it a rule that you can't touch any device while driving
  • Declaring the car an argument-free zone
  • Keeping a reusable water bottle in the back seat for the kids

Even with preventative measures and rules, sometimes life doesn't go according to plan. When something comes up that requires your attention, try to find a safe place to pull over before addressing it. The safety of your family and other motorists may depend on it.

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