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I love road trips, but sometimes a long drive or even a short one to the store can be a bit boring. In this day of smartphones we know a few ways that we are distracted drivers. But you probably don’t realize that you are a distracted driver in other ways.
Distracted Driver Awareness Month is going on right now in April. The message, U Test, U Drive, U Pay is about texting and driving. And that is a critical issue. However, did you know there are other ways you probably don’t realize you are a distracted driver?
In honor of Distracted Driver awareness month, I’m sharing a few things I’m guilty of and I’m sure if we’re honest, some of you are too.
This post was originally published in April 2016 and updated in April 2018.
#1 – Eating while Driving
Let’s face it, there are drive-throughs for a reason. But paying attention to your food means you are not paying attention to the road. While traveling long distances, if you can’t pack a meal to eat, park and get out of the car. Your eyes need a break from the stretch of highway anyway and you can stretch your legs.
Related: How to eat Healthy while on the Road
# 2 – Music
I am love with Spotify and my SiriusXM stations. Unlimited music from the 80’s? Do you really have to ask? One thing I’ll admit to being guilty of is trying to find the right song or playlist on Spotify. This is the same as texting and driving as I have to fiddle with the playlist. My solution is to load up my road trip playlist before putting the car in gear that will last me for a long time, with a lot of variety and motivation to keep going. Or I just turn it to 80’s on 8… you know what I’m talking about!
Related: All American Play List
#3 – Maps
Seriously, how did we get anywhere before Siri told us where to turn? It’s so important to not pick up your phone and look at the map. If you don’t have a passenger or navigator, be sure to get your route ahead of time. Look it over first, turn by turn so you have an idea, and then have the map tell you where to go. Same with your dash GPS if you have one. If you don’t, you can sync your phone to your car and have it dictate to you. I don’t always trust the maps that come with my phone. I like to use Waze, which recognizes traffic patterns, obstructions and will re-route as necessary.
#4 – Children
Yep, those kids are a distraction. Talk to your children before taking a road trip and explain your expectations for behavior in the car. Children as old as 3 can understand that yelling is a distraction. Provide them with ample activities to do. Put older children in charge of tasks to get them involved and invested in the road trip. Things such as Cooler Commander – in charge of drinks and Snack Master. As they get older, they can take charge of Master Navigator and Rest Stop Resource.
Another note on children… if they become a distraction, pull over. Don’t turn around to address issues and don’t threaten with the “Do I have to stop the car?” Just do it. Nothing shocked my kids more than when I pulled over without speaking. (Probably more scary than yelling is when mom doesn’t say anything.) They realized we won’t continue moving until they got under control. Do this a couple of times and they’ll quickly realize they’re only slowing their progress of “Are we there yet?” When you do stop at a rest stop, remind them of the expectations in the car and what happens when they distract you, you can’t drive.
Fess up… What other ways have you been a distracted driver? No judgement here, but let’s all Take the Pledge to not just put our phones away but eliminate other things that make you a distracted driver.