As you likely know, driving with young children can be a challenge! Between the noise they make and their needs that arise, focusing on the road may be incredibly difficult at times.
While kids can certainly be distracting when you’re trying to drive, you must do your best to watch the road and be a good driver. Looking away from the road for even a second is enough to cause a serious car accident with permanent injuries.
Considering that your children are so young, it’s up to you to keep them safe and ensure that they don’t affect your ability to drive.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to make family car trips much less stressful! To keep you and your family safe, we’ve outlined these useful tactics below!
Prepare For the Trip
First, you should always prepare for any car trip you take.
As a busy parent, time is likely not on your side. You probably have less time than you need to get everything done and this leads to shortcuts that save you time.
One common shortcut involves rushing into the car. Riding in the car seems like a simple task, but it’s a big endeavor for your little one. You can’t just strap them in and hit the road because they’ll have many wants and needs during your trip that will demand your attention.
Because of this, you need to plan appropriately for all of your car trips. Think about how long you’re going to be in the car and what your child might need during that time.
Chances are, there are likely several things you can do that will make the drive easier on you and your child. Perhaps you need to bring along the right music, stuffed animal, blanket, or snack. Maybe they need a tether for their toys so nothing is dropped and out of their reach.
Figure out what makes car rides go smoother and take at least 15 minutes before each trip to ensure it’s ready. This will create fewer distractions for you while driving, resulting in better focus and decision making.
Provide Entertainment For Your Kids
Next, make sure to provide entertainment for your kids during the ride.
Driving may be stimulating for you because it requires constant attention, precise judgment, and skill. On the other hand, it demands nothing from your passengers and this is extremely boring for kids.
Unless you’re lucky and have a kid that loves watching the scenery pass by, your child will get bored fast. This is just how kids are and it’s nothing that they’re doing wrong.
Unfortunately, the boredom of children is almost always the cause of misbehavior and problems. When driving, your kids being bored can cause them to bug you and divert your attention from the road.
Knowing this, you can prevent your children from being bored by providing entertainment during the trip. Options like a book, handheld video game, tablet to watch a movie or show, other toys, or even playing games with the scenery can help keep your little ones entertained.
When your kids are happy and distracted, it gives you the freedom to give the road all the attention that it deserves and makes everyone in the car safer.
Encourage Good Behavior
During, before, and after the trip, make a point to encourage good passenger behavior.
Kids will be kids and that means they’re bound to do silly things and make mistakes. However, they can also be taught how to behave well. The difference between well-behaved and unruly children often comes down to parenting.
Poorly behaved children may scream, demand your attention, throw things, complain, or otherwise make your drive difficult. Alternatively, good behavior involves quiet noise levels and not distracting you.
It certainly isn’t always easy for kids to behave properly because it can be quite boring to do the right thing. Because of this, you need to encourage them anytime they behave well.
A good starting point is to set expectations for the trip before setting out. This makes it easier to point out good behavior during the trip that you’ve previously requested. After you arrive, take the time to recognize what they’ve done to make them more likely to repeat it on future drives.
When your kids behave, it makes it much easier to do your job. Help them do right by praising them and giving rewards for good choices.
Avoid Drowsy Driving
A final important suggestion is to avoid drowsy driving at all costs.
Your goal as a parent should be to make yourself as ready to drive as possible. This means being free of any impairments or distractions that make you a worse driver.
You likely won’t mess with drugs or alcohol, but it’s fatigue that tends to be the biggest issue with driving parents. Fatigue is incredibly common amongst mothers due to their overall burden.
Unfortunately, you still have many obligations to tend to and this can lead to situations like driving while fatigued. This is incredibly dangerous because drowsy driving is comparable to attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol.
Drowsy driving directly impairs your reaction time, judgment, focus, and ability to control your car. All of these factors make an accident much more likely.
With this in mind, think twice about driving anytime you’re feeling tired. Consider taking a brief nap, asking your spouse to drive, or rescheduling if you don’t have the energy to drive. Committing to only driving when fully awake is essential to keeping your family safe!
While it’s certainly a challenge to drive with kids, you can manage it if you know what to expect. Children are bound to get bored being a passenger and this may prompt you to step in and help them, which is undeniably hazardous when you’re driving.
To avoid this, you need to take a few measures to ensure safer travels with your family. This includes preparing beforehand for the trip, providing entertainment for your kids, encouraging good behavior, and avoiding drowsy driving.
Safety isn’t fun to think about, but it’s essential to having fun and completing basic trips in the car. Remember this and take control of your driving situation to ensure the safety of your children!