Distracted driving is often associated with texting, eating, changing the radio or reaching for something out of view. If you have kids, you know they can be just as distracting as anything else - often more so.
Here are some tips to help you stay focused with a car full of kids.
Kids can be demanding, especially in the car on long drives. Have snacks, books, wipes and anything else they may need in a readily accessible place for you or for them to use while in the car.
Making sure the kids are fed is another way to get ready for the journey. This way you won't have to deal with the hassle of wrangling coolers or making frequent stops for food while on the road.
With that being said, keeping snacks handy may help when kids get the munchies. Put them in containers your children can access, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.
Also, setting ground rules and routines before you leave on a long drive can help your kids know what to expect and how to act, even when they get bored.
Taking breaks during a long road trip may not be ideal when you want to get somewhere quickly, but breaks may be just the thing restless kids need. Let them get out their wiggles or go to the bathroom. Doing this will help the kids and adults feel refreshed and ready for the next leg of the drive.
To better prepare for these brief pauses in travel, research what rest stops are okay with children running around and playing ahead of time.
Bring distractions for the kids
If you have little ones, point out school buses, fire trucks and lights when you need to distract them. No matter the age, the longer the drive, the more likely your children will get bored, and so doing little things like this can certainly help keep kids under control.
If your vehicle has a DVD player, watching movies is also a simple way to keep your kids entertained for the duration of a trip. The same could be said for smartphones or tablets. Additionally, audiobooks, car games and songs can be great distractions.
Still, even with the best distractions, there are no guarantees that kids won't get restless. However, you'll likely have more time to focus on the road if they have something to do.
Cut down on driver distractions
Driving with a car full of kids can get stressful. Do not make it worse by checking text messages, taking phone calls or doing anything else that takes your focus off the road.
"Drivers can easily lose focus as they start thinking of things they need to do, events that are currently going on in their lives, and other thoughts that cause a loss of concentration on the road," according to Ancira.
If you have a responsible person on the passenger side, such as a spouse, friend or older child, that person can help with any tantrums from the back or incoming text messages.
Additionally, you'll have someone to talk to when kids in the back are napping and the scenery is monotonous. Plus, you can take turns driving if your passenger has a license.
Keep your eyes on the road
There is a reason driver's education students are told to always keep their eyes on the road. Taking your eyes off, even for a few seconds, can result in dire consequences.
"Texting is the most alarming distraction," according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed."
Turning to face a screaming kid in the back seat has similar consequences.
If the situation distracting you is a matter of life and death, pull over. Otherwise, keep your eyes on the road.
No matter what kinds of distractions you find yourself facing while on your journey, remember your life - and the lives of the children in your car - are more valuable than reading a text, reaching for a snack or starting a movie.