Ways To Combat Distracted Driving

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We hear all the time about teens getting into car crashes because they were texting while driving. We’ve seen the heart-breaking public service announcements about a teen’s last text before dying in a crash. Teens get such a bad rap for texting and driving, yet I see so many adults who are driving while trying to dial a phone number, text, put on makeup, hold their pet … often with small children in the backseat. What are we teaching our children and teens about distracted driving?

So many of us are multi-taskers by nature. Everyone is busy, and some of us are in our car way more often than we would like to be. It’s tempting to want to pop off a quick text message to let someone know we are running late. It’s easy to make a fast phone call to the doctor’s office from the car to ask a question we might forget about by the time we get home. And we have to check in with work, don’t we?

According to Distraction.gov, the official US government website for distracted driving, “Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety. These types of distractions include: texting; using a cell phone or smartphone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading (including maps); using a navigation system; adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.”

So how do you keep your teenager from texting and driving or talking on their cell phone while driving? For starters, you have to be a good example. A teenager recently told me her mother drives with her knee while applying lipstick and talking on the phone at the same time. Maybe being a bad example will make this teenager go the opposite way; maybe not. One mom I know says, “Oh I’m horrible … I text but with my voice app more now … I always put on makeup in the car. It’s a horrible habit I have … I’m a terrible example; in fact, I have talked to them a lot about ‘what I do they shouldn’t.’”

Another option is to get a cool app to help you out. Privus Mobile® is a Dallas-based application developer that has come up with a Caller ID app that says out loud who a text is from. This way, a person can decide to ignore the text or to pull off to the side of the road to check the text and/or answer it. This is a great idea because now people won’t have to look at their phone to see who is sending a text, and then try to read it and respond while driving. To learn more about this app to help end texting while driving, go to http://www.privusmobile.com/eyesontheroad.

Realize that being late to your destination is better than not arriving at all due to causing an accident because you had to do last-minute things in your car instead of at home. Thinking, “I can just call/text my friend back while I’m driving the kids to dance class” could be deadly and is something you can make a note about and do later.

Keep track of when your child is driving places and find out on the phone bill if there were any calls or texts during that time. If it turns out your child is practicing distracted driving, decide on the consequences, such as taking away driving and/or other privileges, etc.

More ideas include:

Keep snacks and bottles of water in the car where the kids can get to them instead of you digging around for them and passing them back.

Pull over to soothe your baby instead of reaching back and trying to get a pacifier or bottle in his mouth.

Rather than messing with the radio/CD player endlessly, leave it where it is or turn it off entirely.

Stow your phone somewhere in the car where you can’t reach it and won’t be tempted to answer it. Turning it off is also a good idea so you won’t hear the ringing or dinging of it and get stressed out thinking it might be something urgent. Even using a headset is not necessarily safer, as your mind is still focused on the phone call and not on the road.

Kerrie McLoughlin
About Kerrie McLoughlin

Kerrie McLoughlin is a homeschooling and work-at-home mom of five.

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