Reduce Driver Distraction: Keep Kids Busy for Holiday Commute, Part I

Reduce Driver Distraction: Keep Kids Busy for Holiday Commute, Part I

christmas-family-3-1159028-mWhen it comes to the holiday season, there is already enough stress present.  So rather than spending several hours bickering and yelling in the car, be sure that you are prepared as you leave your Saint Petersburg home for the holidays. If the trip to see family and friends was already a nightmare, then start thinking now about how you can make the return trip more fun.  Keeping your kids happy in the car can mean less driver distraction and a little added sanity, and it can also save lives.  Did you know that reports indicate 25 percent of auto accidents occur as a result of drivers trying to contend with kids in the backseat?

Planning. This is the essential first stage of any successful road trip.  Before you even think of leaving your St. Petersburg driveway, be sure that you have considered how you will keep your kids occupied for the drive.  Additionally, make sure that they understand exactly what will take place during that time on the road and that driver distraction isn’t safe.  Kids respond much better if they are aware of what they face.  So, tell them honestly how long it will take to get where you are going, give them an ETA, and also tell them at about what time you think you will be stopping to eat along the way.  As you make your plans and develop an itinerary, ask your kids what they think.  Children who are involved in the scheduling will often be far more willing to cooperate along the way.

Speaking of meals, the worst offense on any car ride with kids is failing to plan meals correctly.  Hungry passengers are bound to be miserable, and that’s definitely a driver distraction, so plan to eat every four hours or so.  Additionally, it is wise to pack a cooler of snacks and drinks to tide everyone over, in case the next restaurant or rest stop is still several miles away.  Healthy snacks are always a wise investment when traveling.  Yogurt, cheese, fruit, crackers, and even veggies can go over extremely well with kids stuck in the car.

In addition to smart packing, you will also want to carefully consider timing of the trip.  If leaving at one particular time is going to land you in standstill traffic because you are forced to travel through the center of a busy metropolitan area during rush hour, for instance, then you may want to rethink your initial plans.  Similarly, you may not want to travel more-or-less deserted areas in the dead of night, in case there is a problem and your cell reception is poor.

You should also be aware of other unfavorable circumstances that may arise during the trip that could cause driver distraction.  Does someone in the family suffer from motion sickness?  Is someone else prone to migraines?  Will one of the kids need frequent potty breaks along the way?  These are all problems to be considered beforehand.  They can then be better addressed.  For instance, rather than risk an accident, it might be best to put young children in pull-ups for the car ride.  Anyone prone to motion sickness should receive a dose of preventative medication an hour before you plan to depart. Over-the-counter and prescription medications should be kept close at hand in case someone needs them along the way.

Intelligent preparation and packing – such as ensuring potentially necessary items are always within reach – will go a long way toward making your trip safer and more enjoyable for everyone in the car.  The holiday season is far more cheery when everyone is getting along and there is no need for a call to the local personal injury attorney.

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