Eliminating Distractions While Driving

I get a stomach ache every time I see it…someone looking at their phone from behind the wheel.  My mind races with questions like, “Don’t they realize how dangerous that is?”, “Don’t they care about their own safety/livelihood?”, and “Don’t they know my kids are in the car next to them?!” My unanswered questions quickly lead to frustration.  To avoid having my frustration turn into anger, I try to stop and ask myself, “are you 100% focused on your driving 100% of the time?”  The honest answer is no.  While I may have signed the “It Can Wait”, as well as Oprah’s “No Phone Zone” pledges, committing never to text and drive, that doesn’t make me immune to distractions while driving.  I’m a mom; therefore, if my kids are in the car, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m at least mildly to moderately distracted most of the time.  In fact, the last two car accidents that I’ve been involved in have taken place in parking lots while I was distracted with the kids in the car.  So what can be done? How do we as moms make an effort to eliminate distractions while driving in order to protect the precious cargo that we carry around each day? Here are a few of my own suggestions that I’ve gained from experience:

1)  Be Prepared – My kids love snacking in the car and I don’t mind the mess if it keeps them quiet while I’m driving.  However, they love to wait till I’m on the interstate or trying to find my way around to ask me for a snack.  And while I pride myself on my ability to multitask and can pop open a Capri Sun with my eyes closed, should I be doing it behind the wheel? Probably not.  For this reason, I always do a snack check before we get going, making sure whatever drink/snack I have for them is within reach and accessible.  If we’re going on a longer trip, I have books, toys & DVD’s set up so that I’m not fumbling around to accommodate the kids while operating heavy machinery.

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2)  Lose The Phone – I intentionally put my phone in my back pocket or leave it in my purse so that I’m not tempted to check it while driving.  If I’m on a longer trip where I may need to make a phone call, etc. I’ll set it in the side door and only check or dial while at a complete stop.  I’m not saying I’m perfect at this, emergencies have taken place; however, I try to be intentional and remind myself that it will still be there when I get to where I’m going and truly, It Can Wait.

3)  Don’t Engage in Battle – My boys like to pick on each other in the car ALL. THE. TIME. And I often find myself saying the most ridiculous things while giving them the Stink Eye in the rear-view mirror.  However, nothing I say ever really helps; in fact, it usually just adds fuel to the fire when one gets the other one in trouble. I find that it’s often best to just ignore the brotherly behavior and let them learn a little conflict resolution, even if it means I have to turn up the tunes so as not to hear them for a bit.

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4)  To Be Continued – For whatever reason, some of our most in-depth conversations with my kids happen in the car, especially when we’re one-on-one and it’s quiet.  While I LOVE talking with my boys and am always happy to answer their questions, sometimes and evermore frequently, they ask questions that stump me or that require some serious thought.  In those moments, I have to remind myself that while I’m enjoying convos with my kiddos, it’s okay to continue the conversation at a time when I can really focus on what I want to say and how I should respond.  I explain to them that what they’ve said is really important to me and I want to talk about it after I’ve had some time to really think and when I’m not focusing my attention on driving.

At a time where we’re setting resolutions and finding ways to better ourselves, let us resolve to eliminate distractions where it is most critical to the safety and lives of ourselves, our children, as well as those around us.  I’d love to hear your suggestions/tips for avoiding distractions while driving.

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Disclaimer: All of these pictures were taken in a parked vehicle.  Safety first!

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