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Driving With Kids: A Survival Guide

By: Lisa Keegan

Date: Monday, 28. June 2010

At we have covered a myriad of driving distractions over the years, from mobile phones and eating while driving, to the more recent distractions of SatNav and texting drivers. Try doing all of the aforementioned at once and you may have some idea of what it is like to drive with unpredictable and demanding kids in the back of your car!

A recent study in Australia highlighted the dangers of being distracted by children while driving where ... parents have identified being distracted by their children while driving as a significant issue with one in five saying it has led to an accident or a 'near miss'.

To try to overcome or at least cope with the level of distraction that is inevitable when driving with kids, we have put together a survival guide of do's and don'ts while transporting your precious, but at times infuriating, cargo!

driving distraction with kids

The golden rule to remember is that the driver is responsible for the passengers - no matter what. They may really want that toy that has fallen under the back seat, or need you to pass back a juice bottle, but your job, first and foremost, is to ensure their safety, pandering to their needs is secondary to this. If they know you can't and won't react then they won't expect you to.

The Do's of driving with kids:

  1. Do prepare in advance: try to ensure that they have any juice/ snacks they need, but if something is dropped - it's gone, let them get used to this!
  2. Do get in the zone: think of yourself as the chauffeur (which you probably are a lot of the time anyway!), your job is to get your passengers from A to B safely, not to ply them with snacks and regale them with interesting stories and stimulating games along the way.
  3. Do pull over: there may be times when you have to do this if things get really out of control, make sure you pull off any major roadways, as being pulled over in the wrong place can prove to be more dangerous than driving while distracted.
  4. Do stay focused: you have enough distractions with kids in the back, don't use your phone or any other distractions as these will obviously multiply your chances of being involved in an accident.

The Don'ts of driving with kids:

  1. Don't take your eyes off the road: resist the urge to turn around to intervene in any situations, use your mirrors to keep an eye on things but only when safe to do so.
  2. Don't pander to their needs: if you change the music at every whim this will become a major distraction and you will be setting a precedent for all future journeys. Be firm!
  3. Don't give snacks to small children: if they are small enough for you to worry about choking while eating at home, then definitely don't let them eat in the car - you will be unable to stop watching them in your mirrors.
  4. Don't lose the cool: if all hell breaks loose in the back of the car, until you can pull over safely or reach your destination, try to ignore it. It may sound nigh on impossible but imagine you have one of those taxi screens between you and them (oh if only!) and keep focused on your driving!

And remember - what happens in the car, stays in the car!

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David Williams,

It's also important to remember your children (no matter how young) are absorbing all of your bad driving habits. If you drive badly, including the Don'ts listed in the article, they will end up driving the same way! Coaching young drivers starts when they first get into their baby seat. Find out more and particularly how to coach a teen driver at coacharookie com

bill westley,

I dont like car crashes

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