Thousands of people in the Unites States are killed every year because of car crashes that involve distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Most distracted driving prevention materials focus on the dangers of cellphone use while driving. However, cellphones are not the only dangerous distractions drivers face.

Distractions can be visual, manual or cognitive

Anything that requires you to take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off driving could be a distraction. There are numerous examples of potential driving distractions, and as a parent, you may be surprised to learn that under certain circumstances, even your children could be driving distractions.

Parents have been known to take their eyes off the road to monitor their children’s behavior in the backseat, to take their hands off the wheel to calm fussy babies and to take their minds off driving when trying to break up sibling squabbles. However warranted these actions may seem at the time, they each pose a risk to the occupants of the vehicle and all the other vehicles sharing the road.

Consider how you can prevent being distracted

To prevent your children from becoming driving distractions, consider the following tips:

  • Make sure children are properly buckled in before you begin driving. If your child gets out of the car seat or seat belt, find a safe place to pull over until everyone is safely buckled.
  • Bring activities for children, and place them within the child’s reach before you begin driving.
  • Play children’s music or a children’s book on tape, but make sure to set it up before you begin driving.
  • Feed everyone before driving, instead of on the road.
  • Make a policy not to manage technology or pick up dropped items when driving.
  • Safely pull over the vehicle when sibling squabbles become distracting. Make sure to remind the children that it is not safe to distract the driver.
  • Stop often on long trips, so children can stretch.

As a parent you probably want to do everything you can to protect your family, and as a motorist, you have a responsibility to behave safely on the road. Avoiding distracted driving in all its forms can help you accomplish both.