New Moms Are Hugely Distracted Drivers & The Fallout Is Scary for Everyone

OMG 14

mom drivingHere's a piece of news that is both unsurprising and disturbing: New moms may be among the most distracted drivers on the road. In a survey conducted by American Baby and Safe Kids Worldwide, the majority of more than 2,000 moms of kids under age 2 say they're more careful behind the wheel since giving birth -- but the stats tell a different story.

It turns out that most moms THINK we're safer drivers with our precious cargo on board, but the reality is we're tired, distracted, and we have a very bad habit of multitasking with our cellphones. Shockingly, almost 10 percent of the surveyed new moms had experienced an accident with their baby while driving.

According to the CDC, more than 1,200 people are injured every day in crashes that involve a distracted driver. How can you keep you and your baby from becoming a statistic? Experts recommend following these rules:

Put down the cellphone. As in, toss it in the backseat so you aren't tempted to glance at it while you're behind the wheel. 1.2 million crashes per year can be attributed to cellphone use while driving, but the American Baby/Safe Kids survey shows plenty of us aren't worried about that number: 78 percent of new moms admit they talk on the phone in the car, and 26 percent check email or text. No bueno.

Choose your errand time wisely. I almost hate to include this advice, but here goes: experts suggest strategically planning your outings whenever possible to lessen the chances that you'll be driving around with a howling baby in the backseat. (As we all know, this isn't always possible.)

Eliminate additional distractions. You're a little busy these days, to say the least. But try not to use your driving time to grab a quick meal, slap on some lip gloss, or dig through your purse. The more you've got going on, the less you're able to focus on the task at hand.

Pay attention to your fatigue levels. New moms are often operating on very little sleep, and even if we think we're wide awake, our reaction times are drastically affected by being low on rest. If you're wiped out, think twice about getting behind the wheel in the first place. Or pull over to a safe place and try to get in a power nap, or drink some caffeine (200 milligrams, about two cups of coffee).

Don't turn around to tend to your child. It's SO hard to avoid this one, but taking your eyes off the road to hand over a toy or replace a pacifier is the worst thing you can do. If you're driving 55 miles per hour and you look away for two seconds, your car will have traveled 176 feet -- half the length of a football field. Attending to young children is such a distraction, the accident rate for new moms is on par with teens.

Always use the child safety seat. Always, always, always, always. If used properly, a car seat can reduce fatalities among infants by 71 percent. Have your child's seat checked by a safety tech (find one at SeatCheck.org), and periodically check the seat for snugness and fit.

Are you at all surprised to hear that new moms are so distracted behind the wheel?


Image via abardwell/Flickr

safety, car seat safety

14 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Lynette Lynette

That baby in the picture should still be rear facing.  I would add extended rear facing to this list.  At LEAST till age 2.  

mande... manderspanders

Not surprised at all.


When I was 15 years old, I was rear-ended by a mother who was turned around looking at her baby.  I was stopped, waiting on the cadillac in front of me to make a left hand turn.  This mother hit me at nearly 40 mph; pushed me into the cadillac, and caused me a great case of whiplash.


*for any questioning why I was driving, I had a restricted license and was leaving work, on my way home.


If you're behind the wheel of the car, you should be focused on the road, not the baby.

Cassandra Huber

Rear facing until 2 isn't the law in most states, so knock that crap off. It has nothing to do with distracted driving, so why mention it?

Lynette Lynette

The law...no it's not the law but it has been found to be safer.  The article mentions the importance of car seats and has a picture of a child in a car seat.  Mentioning this important safety tip fits the article.

mommy... mommyajay

I agree add rear facing, it will help in the safety department if there was to be an accident. Why so rude, Cassandra?

mande... manderspanders

geeze...what is it with the sanctimommy bullshit on the stir today?  wwwaayyy worse than usual.

Mommy... Mommy2justone

I don't think my child is a minimum, so the state MINIMUM isn't good enough. 
She rearfaced till she was almost 4 years old.  I will follow the new AAP recommendations rather than a crappy minimum law that was passed forever ago.
 
I agree that rearfacing should be added to this as a safety tip :) 

Mommy... Mommy2justone

Cassandra is a bit snippy because her own (just barely if even)1 year old is front facing in a crappy Cosco high back booster with loose straps and she feels like she has to defend her decision to front face him. Even though the facts don't lie. 

Dirty... DirtyHippyMama

I agree the stir should really promote safe car seat usage as many moms will see this and some won't research and just think their baby should forward face too soon as well.

super... superwoman8977

rear facing isnt going to help when the kid is screaming at the top of his lungs and you cant see him to comfort him.  I dont know how many times I had to drive through town with my child crying and because he was RF I couldnt comfort him (him in a general sense), it nearly drove me crazy especially if I knew I couldnt stop because we had to be somewhere.

1-10 of 14 comments 12 Last