Distractionless driving with children and dogs

This week continues the posts about driving safer by avoiding distractions. Last time, I encouraged you to keep your attention on the road by ignoring your cell phone and not fiddling with the entertainment system or GPS. As promised, today I’ll be touching on tips for driving safer with children and dogs in the car.

Both children and dogs can be a pretty big distraction when you’re driving, but in different ways. Dogs generally form a distraction when they are free to run around in the car, unrestrained. When this is the case, they can startle the driver by nudging them or suddenly licking them. Even a dog who suddenly starts breathing right next to your ear because he wants to see out the windshield, can take you by surprise.

Suddenly seeing this in your mirror will startle you
Suddenly seeing this in your mirror will startle you

But maybe your pooch does none of this and sits politely on the backseat. Even then, you might get distracted as you are likely to be tempted to look back and see how your dog is doing. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second is potentially dangerous. Luckily, there is a simple solution: keep your dog restrained in a safe manner when he is in the car. This way, he cannot reach you and you will know without having to look that he is safe. There are several ways to achieve this, some like a kennel or a pet barrier are better than for instance a special seat belt or harness for reasons I have explained before.

Sleeping child: a rare sight
Sleeping child: a rare sight

Keeping your young children from distracting you can be a harder task. They too will seek your attention but instead of nudging you, they are more prone to shouting and screaming. Whether it’s demanding sweets or fighting with a sibling, it’s hard to ignore and the urge to look back and intervene will be strong. However, this would endanger you all. Instead, when going on a trip make sure you are prepared and have different ways of keeping

Trouble ahead
Trouble ahead

the kids occupied. This can take many forms, from having plenty of (preferably healthy) snacks to bringing toys, books, films and such. Of course, the good old fashioned ways of playing games such as I spy and singing songs works too, as long as you can still pay enough attention to the road while participating.

Next time when going somewhere with your dog or child, try to keep these simple tips in mind and try to focus on what’s going on outside the car and not what’s happening inside. Take measures to avoid distraction or just leave it to your co-pilot to handle it, if you are lucky enough to have one. Safe driving!

 

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Car Safety: Distracted Driving

Last week concluded the series about special activities to keep yourself and your dog busy and happy. Several of these activities meant going a distance by car. This led me to think once more about safety in the car. However, unlike my first series, these next few posts will not focus on accessories that can make driving safer. Instead I’ll be looking at how you can accomplish that by changing your own behavior. A lot of road accidents happen because people are distracted and miss something or don’t have sufficient time to respond to danger because of it. So in this series I will be talking about ways of avoiding distraction.

Trouble ahead if you don't pay attention
Trouble ahead if you don’t pay attention

First, let’s start with the obvious one: use of cell phones and smartphones. Some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking that you are tired of hearing about this. However, statistics show that a significant number of accidents are still caused by cell phone use behind the wheel. And yet, most people are aware of how dangerous this behavior is, but for some reason they feel invincible and think that they will never be in an accident because of it. They are wrong, so put that phone away and keep your eyes on the road!

Related to cell phone use is fiddling with the GPS or the in car entertainment system. When you really want to change the route or destination the GPS should take, try finding a safe place to pull over and do so. Or better yet, ask your shotgun passenger to do it. This way, you can keep your eyes on the road and keep your attention focused on the current situation and what other road users are doing.

Cell phones, the number one distraction
Cell phones, the number one distraction

Fiddling with the entertainment system can be a no-go too. It’s all right to change the radio, if you can do it quickly and preferably without looking for the correct button. But connecting your phone or any other device via USB, inserting or removing a CD or tape are all things that should be done at a standstill.

These are just a few tips on how you can avoid being distracted behind the wheel, next week we’ll be looking at some more ways, including some tips for parents, with children of human and canine variety. Until then, drive safely!