By Beth McKay
Becoming a parent basically means that you are promoted to the CEO of Multitasking Inc.
You find ways to blow dry your hair while wearing your newborn in a sling. You eat your breakfast with one hand while the other spoons watery-thin applesauce into the mouth of your infant or holds him while he nurses, toast crumbs snowing on his fuzzy head. Literally, every aspect of your life becomes one in which multitasking is a necessity, driving included.
However, multitasking while driving distracts parents, preventing them from being focused on safe driving. You do not need to read a long list of statistics about the dangers and prevalence of distracted driving because you know that distracted driving happens all of the time, and in an effort to reduce this, most states have begun efforts to make certain driving distractions illegal, and in Mississippi, laws prohibit all drivers from texting while driving (ncls.org).
Unfortunately, some distractions cannot be prevented, especially for parents. Although driving parents should be more focused, the reality is that they are not. How focused can Mom and Dad be when there is a baby constantly crying in the back seat or siblings are fighting? (Thank you minivan captain seats for at least keeping one child at an arm’s length distance from the other.)
All joking aside, parents travel busy interstates and dangerous highways with their most valuable possessions each and every day and staying focused while driving and eliminating distractions not only helps keep those possessions safe but also provides a good example so that when the time comes, and these kids are packing a license and manning a vehicle down the highway, they know the importance of staying focused and reducing distractions.
Preparation allows drivers to eliminate unnecessary distractions. Suggested preparations before driving include: make any phone calls or respond to texts, check routes and set GPS (if needed), finish any eating or drinking, finish dressing (make-up), select music and temperature, evaluate emotional / cognitive state.
In addition to these suggestions, Carrie Grace Washer, Madison mother of four, explains, “To help lessen distraction while driving, we often listen to podcasts or audiobooks in the car. We also love Sparkle Stories, and music by Laurie Berkner keeps kids engaged and quiet. My phone is set to do not disturb, and that helps alert those texting that I’m focused on driving and will be in touch later.”
While preparation can help reduce distractions, some are inevitable. Laura Graham, mother of two, barely escaped an accident that would have been the result of distractions. Her youngest daughter, being upset because she had not purchased anything from the store, was kicking the back of Laura’s seat. This combined with crying created a great distraction. Laura, sitting at a red light, did not see it turn green because she was turned toward her daughter addressing the behavior. Upon realizing that the light had turned green, Laura accelerated quickly; however, the acceleration was a little too quickly, and she slammed on her breaks in order to stop when the light returned to red. Luckily, Laura’s immediate reaction prevented an accident.
By avoiding distractions while driving, parents not only help keep their kids safe but also set a good driving example for their children. While on the road, resign from your position as CEO of Multitasking Inc. and focus on driving without distractions.
Beth McKay, writer, teacher, and mother of three, is busy downloading the latest episode of Sparkle Stories for an upcoming road trip. She fully appreciates when the kids fall asleep in the car, and she can listen to her music peacefully while driving 100 % distraction-free.