Even though there are plenty of hazards every time we get behind the wheel, did you know that having kids in the car is 12 times more distracting than talking on your cellphone while driving?
Sure, things like daydreaming, incoming text messages, and loud music all play a part in making us less focused too -- but little ones who are crying, screaming, or making incessant demands and requests from the backseat are far more effective at making moms take their eyes off the road.
But if you're like every other busy mom on the planet, you probably assume you multitask just fine in the car and that your driving isn't any less safe even when tending to your children.
Yeah, that's kind of what I thought too, until my own driving under pressure skills were put to the test.
At the end of April, I participated in the SuperMom Ride N' Drive event at the Cooper Tire Vehicle Test Center near San Antonio, Texas.
To show us just how much of a safety hazard kids in the car can be, each of us in attendance took a spin around a "distracted driving" course that had been set up with a camera to record our reaction times.
I did a lap around the track with no distractions, and then two "kids" magically appeared in the backseat to see how I fared when they tried to throw me off-course.
They bombarded me with these 10 common distractions moms have on the road. How many times have you attempted or dealt with one or more of these while driving?
- Fetching snacks or drinks, opening them, and handing them to your kids in the back seat. (Oh come on, admit it. You've even mixed up a bottle of formula and passed it back to your little one on occasion.)
- Retrieving lost pacifiers -- even from the floor of the vehicle.
- Turning the radio up and down.
- Stopping them from fighting with each other and/or being loud.
- Singing at the top of their lungs.
- Throwing wipes in the backseat to clean up said vomit.
- Putting on lipstick at the request of the kids.
- Adjusting the temperature in the car.
- Glancing in the back seat to make sure everything is ok.
Yes, the video that came out of my little distracted driving test is hilarious -- but it's also kind of scary, considering how much of a difference there was as far as my focus on the road goes between the non-distracted lap around the track and the one with the kids trying to get my attention.
Watch the clip below and notice how during the distracted lap, my speed was inconsistent, I started swerving in and out of the lane a bit, and I seemed totally frazzled and stressed out. (And yes, I realize you could probably make a drinking game out of how many times I say "all righty!")
OMG. The strangest part is that I didn't even realize I was veering out of my lane or speeding up and down while I was driving. I was so focused on honoring the kids' requests that I barely paid attention behind the wheel.
Even though the circumstances in this video were exaggerated a bit, it really did open my eyes to just how crucial it is for us to pay attention to the road and only the road at all times to ensure the safety of our precious cargo. It's better to pull the car over to take care of our little ones' needs and be two minutes late to wherever we happen to be heading than to try and juggle too many tasks at once and risk having an accident in the process.
Are you guilty of multitasking with your kids in the car?
Disclosure: Cooper Tire sponsored this event and paid for my accommodations. Regardless of that, all my opinions, statements, and comments are my own.