Driving is a really emotive topic for me, especially as my brother was hit by a car and died at only aged 6 years old. So it does really make me angry to see people driving around like idiots – especially when they have children in the car! What with my oldest son now having his first driving lessons it makes me even more nervous about what these other drivers are up to. Hopefully some of them just don’t realise how dangerously they are driving and will have it gently pointed out, before they have some awful accident. In the meantime I accepted a guest post in association with Brake and Purple Parking with tips from the lovely Vic Welton on avoiding being distracted when driving.
Don’t drive distracted: Tips for safe driving as a Parent
As a parent you have to be a multi-tasking champion, we all know that for sure, but have you ever thought about how your multi-tasking behind the wheel could make it harder to be a responsible driver? When the kids are demanding attention from the back seat, it’s difficult to focus on the road ahead, and this can lead to accidents when driving or parking.
Road safety charity Brake has recently teamed up with Purple Parking to conduct a survey of road users, and they’re looking to highlight how important it is to limit driver distractions. Brake spokesman Joe Burns explained, “Driving is one of the most dangerous things we’re likely to do on a daily basis, and it requires our full attention. Most of us can’t multi-task as well as we think we can, and one study has estimated that one in five potentially devastating crashes are caused by driver distractions.*”
Mummy blogger and qualified driving instructor Victoria Welton, who is mum to a 7-year-old daughter, Grace, knows all about the importance of road safety. She’s come up with these top tips for busy mums, to support the road habits survey by Purple Parking and Brake, and to keep you vigilant when you drive.
- Don’t be tempted to take calls in the car, even when using your phone hands-free, as this adds more distraction. It’s much simpler and safer to switch your phone off or put it on silent, then deal with calls when you’re not driving. In a separate survey (run by Brake, with Specsavers and Romex), 6/10 children were found to have ridden in a car when the driver was talking on the phone.
- Before you set off, ensure everyone’s seatbelts are on, and that the kids are ready to go – they’ve been to the loo, they’re not fighting amongst themselves, and they have something to snack on if you’re going on a long drive.
- Prepare yourself for the journey ahead by packing a few audio books or CDs that the kids love. Okay, so they might not be your favourites to listen to, but you’ll find it much easier to concentrate with the little ones kept entertained.
- Give kids something to occupy themselves – this can be anything from drawing, playing with electronic devices or games such as eye spy. They’ll be in their element and you can join in as and when you feel able to.
- I’ve taught my daughter from an early age that she needs to be quiet if I need to concentrate on the road. Make this a habit and your kids won’t question it.
- Key areas to pay special attention to include roads close to schools and parks, some of which may have 20mph limits. Children will be running around here; also remember that kids may attempt to cross in between parked cars, so be prepared.
- During really distracting moments when the kids need you, don’t try to do two things at once; simply find the nearest safe place to pull over, such as a lay-by or quiet side road, and deal with the issue when you’re stationary.
- When you’re parking, keep checking your mirrors and staying alert for pedestrians walking behind or in front of the car. Slow down and take the time you need to park properly, making sure the kids keep quiet with a game of Sleeping Lions if necessary.
Now you’re ready to drive calmly and safely, with minimal distractions during your journey. Do you have your own failsafe tips to help you concentrate with the kids in tow? Why not share them?
*= This data was sourced from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 100 car naturalistic driving study, and was provided by the Highways Agency.
I have received no financial compensation for this post, it is just a matter close to my heart.