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Dangerous Driving Mistakes Moms and Dads Make

Dangerous Driving Mistakes Moms and Dads Make

Parents today are exhausted. We are drained. We work long hours and our work day doesn’t always end when we leave the office. We commute to work which lengthens our day. We have to drive the kids to dentist appointments, playdates, soccer practices, hockey games, make dinner, keep our home Pinterest-ready.

It’s energy-zapping, keeping up with all those hours driving and catering to the kids. Many of us are getting in the car when we feel admittedly too tired or stressed to drive, and once on the road, we’re chatting on the phone, checking emails and text messages, handing out snacks and juice boxes, fishing for fallen toys on the floor, all while hurtling through traffic.

Parents would stand in front of a bus if it meant protecting their child from harm, yet we are making all these dangerous mistakes every time we get behind the wheel.

Mistake #1. We are ‘promoting’ our kids too soon

We parents seem to want to keep our kids young - except when it comes to their car seats. The truth is, buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries. Yet, an estimated 46% of car seats and booster seats are misused.

What you can do:

  • If you have a car seat in your vehicle, visit your local Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to double-check that it is installed correctly.
  • As your child grows, how they sit will change. Make sure you use a car seat that fits your child’s current size and age.
  • Just like how you wouldn’t reuse a motorcycle helmet after it’s been in an accident, if your car seat is in an accident, replace it.
  • Pay attention to car seat expiry dates - Yes, all car seats come with an expiration date. It is usually printed on the label, imprinted on a plastic part or attached to the bottom of the car seat.

Mistake #2. Our kids are not properly buckled in.

One of the most common reasons for children not properly buckled in is the child’s reluctance to do so. Some children just hate to be constrained - they will whine, put up a physical fight and undo the seat belt. The worst part is finding yourself driving along, only to realize they are not wearing their seat belts anymore!

What you can do:

  • We need to set a good example for children by always wearing your own seatbelt.
  • Always buckle up your kids and start driving only when all seatbelts are done up.
  • Buckle down on unbuckling with SensorSafe Technology
  • Avoid bulky clothing such as jackets and coats. Winter can be brutally cold in many parts of Canada and the US, and you want your little one to be bundled up. But bulky winter clothing makes it more difficult to create a tight harness to keep them safe, especially since bulky clothing will compress in the force of a crash.

Mistake #3. Our kids won’t stop playing with the window or the car handle

All children love to play with windows, especially automatic window controls in cars. But did you know that power windows in cars have killed or injured thousands of children? Thankfully, in addition to driver-operated window disablers, many power windows nowadays also come with anti-pinch or auto-reverse features - any pressure against them as they roll up, such as your child’s finger or arm, the window will either stop or reverse itself and open up.

What about kids who love to play with the door handle? Child safety locks are built into the rear doors of most cars to prevent unauthorized exit from the car both during transit and while the vehicle is stationary. They can be different, depending on the car, so refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine how to engage them.

Photo credit: BestCarSeatHub.com

What you can do:

  • Watch out for rocker switches or toggle switches - these are easy for children and adult to hit by mistake.
  • Look before you close - window or door.
  • Don’t forget to engage the locks on both rear doors.
  • If your car door child safety locks are on, please be sure to teach your child how they can get out of the vehicle if they ever become trapped inside.

Mistake #4. We drive on less sleep than truck drivers do.

Parents are more likely to drive while tired. Although it may seem harmless, fatigue can greatly impact your reaction time, coordination and ability to control your motor. Even if you think your eyes are open, it’s possible for you to fall into a brief 3 or 4-second episode of sleep in traffic without realizing it. Sick with a cold? A British study estimated more than a 50 percent drop in driving ability in cold sufferers. But between errands and school and soccer practices, music classes, etc., it’s easier said than done. We are all sleep-deprived and we don’t take sick days.

What you can do:

  • Ask yourself if you really need to take that trip, no matter how short it is.
  • If you are taking over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs, ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects related to driving, and this includes allergy and cold remedies.
  • If you feel sleepy, pull over and take a power nap or break. Never count on an open window or loud music as props that will help you stay awake.

Mistake #5. We have too many distractions. We are constantly multi-tasking

If you ask parents if they’d ever drink and drive with their kids in the car, they’d say to you, “Absolutely not!” Yet, they never consider cell phone use while driving to be equally, if not more dangerous. To make matters worse, it’s become part of our culture to not just drive, but to drive and do many other things. You are talking to your spouse on the phone on while sipping hot coffee, and your poor baby is screaming because his older siblings are fighting in the backseat - you’re going absolute bonkers so you look over your shoulder and scream at the kids to be quiet - all while you’re zipping through traffic. What happens next, as you can probably guess, is not good.

What you can do:

  • Keep your cell phone in your purse. If it rings, ignore it. If you absolutely have to take the call, pull over and call them back.
  • Tether the toys. You won’t be doing anyone any good if you try to reach behind you or look back to retrieve a toy from the floor. Keep items within reach of your child by attaching them to his car seat.
  • The fussy passengers in the back? Pullover if you can instead of trying to calm them down while you’re driving.
  • Never take your eyes off the road, never!

Mistake #6. We drive aggressively in school zones.

Parents are often the worse offenders of traffic violations, especially during early morning school drop-offs. We are in a rush and school zones can get quite congested: honking, swearing, stressing out. According to a BCAA’s School Zone Safety survey, the majority of parents don’t follow rules of the road in school zones, including not stopping at a marked crosswalk (82%) or driving over the speed limit (93%). Distracted driving has also increased and remains high (82% to 86%).

What you can do:

  • Follow the rules, which include school drop off and pick up procedures and rules of the road such as speed limit, stopping at marked crosswalks and not driving distracted.
  • Focus on what you can control. Be patient and courteous. Reacting with extreme frustration may aggravate the situation.

Mistake #7. You haven’t installed a dash cam in your car.

Will a dash cam make you a better driver? We believe so! Dash cams are one of the most useful in-car technology, especially for parents who spend a lot of time behind the wheel. As well as becoming more road-savvy, dash cams provide learner, new and returning drivers with priceless information on what they're doing behind the wheel. A dash cam can help you pick up on any bad driving habits, such as not keeping a safe enough distance from the car in front of you.

Even if you are a careful and cautious driver, accidents can happen. Knowing that a dash cam is recording your driving practices, you will have a greater incentive to drive safely and keep your eyes on the road. Another significant feature of dash cams on the market is road safety warning systems that alert the driver of all potential road hazards, traffic enforcement zones, swerving out of lane and accidents.

Check out this video by Accelerated Motion on why getting a dash cam is important. The dash cam featured in the video is the Thinkware FA200, the perfect value-driven dash cam that gives you all the essentials and more.

Looking for best-in-class all-round protection? Check out the new 4K dash cams

Conclusion

Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States and Canada, so why are we still taking chances?

The safety of your child depends on the protection provided by the vehicle as well as your commitment to road safety. Yes, we can have the safest car in the market, but it all starts with being a better driver. A dash cam will identify many of our own bad habits and mistakes behind the wheel so we can become better, more responsible drivers. Do it for the kids! Until next time, Happy Safe Driving!

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