Distracted driving also impacts family members

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        Distracted driving is becoming more and more of a safety issue, with crashes involving the bad driving behavior on the rise. It can also be a factor that impacts the safety of family members.
        Distracted riving is generally considered any behavior that takes away the attention of a driver of a motor vehicle from the task of driving. That may sound over-simplistic, but that’s the nuts and bolts of it.
        Engineers and designers of cars and trucks have come a long way in the past several years to combat the problem of distracted driving by adding controls to certain devices to the steering wheel area. On most later model vehicles, you can change the volume of the radio and change stations from the steering column.
        Cruise control functions are manageable from the steering wheel or turn signal lever, and other vehicle functions that would have previously required a driver to look away to the dash are being incorporated into an area immediately accessible to the driver.
        Many drivers who are guilty of distracted driving are not traveling alone at the time. Passengers in a vehicle can be friends or co-workers, but are many times family members. In fact, family members themselves can be the source of distractions.
        One of the more important aspects of distracted driving and its effect on family members regards the impact on their safety should a crash occur. Drivers are not the only ones who are injured (or worse) in crashes that result from drivers who are not paying full attention to the road.
        No good parent intentionally causes harm to his or her kids, so good parents should also consider the ramifications on the youngsters when they are not devoting their full attention to their driving duties.
        It’s good for parents to instill in their children the importance of driving safety so they will understand why mom or dad can’t pay close attention to them as they are going down the road. Having something to keep children occupied while driving is another idea to minimize the need for the driver to look away or to otherwise focus on kids.
        If you have children of varying age, you may have the option to ask the older children to help attend to the needs of the younger ones as you drive. Parents usually have a pretty good idea of how much trust they can place in their children and employing this trust can be good experience for everyone involved.
        Asking older children to help you manage younger ones while in the car can also teach those older ones a sense of responsibility.
        Before drivers look away or mentally take their minds off the road, they should ask themselves if it is something that can wait until the destination is reached. If it can’t wait, pull safely off the road. These are things to consider regardless of if the driver is alone, but it becomes exponentially important if kids are on board.
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.

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