Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - April 2014

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40 Hudson Valley Parent n April 2014 Put down the phone Distracted driving: it's not just teens By KERRIE MCLOUGHLIN W e hear all the time about teens getting into a car crash because they were texting while driving. We've seen the heart-breaking public ser- vice announcements about a teen's last text before dying in a crash. Teens get such a bad rap for tex- ting and driving, yet I see so many adults who are driving while trying to dial a phone number, text, put on makeup, reach down to the backseat floor to retrieve a toy, hold their pet … often with small children in the backseat. What are we teaching our children about distracted driving? So many of us are multi-taskers by nature. Everyone is busy, and some of us are in our car way more often that we would like to be. It's tempting to want to pop off a quick text message to let someone know you are running late. It's easy to make a fast phone call to the doc- tor's office from the car to ask a question you might forget about by the time you get home. And we have to check in with work, don't we? April is Distracted Driving Aware- ness Month. According to Distrac-, the official U.S. govern- ment website for distracted driving, "Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driv- ing. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include: texting; using a cell phone or smart- phone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading, including maps; using a navigation system; watching a video; adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player." Set a good example So how do you keep your teenager from texting and driving or talking on their cell phone while driving? For starters, you have to be a good example. A teenager recently told me her mother drives with her knee while applying lipstick and talking on the phone at the same time. Maybe being a bad example will make this teenager go the opposite way; maybe not. One mom I know says, "Oh I'm horrible ... I text but with my voice app more now ... I always put on makeup in the car. It's a horrible hab- it I have … I'm a terrible example; in fact, I have talked to them a lot about what I do they shouldn't." Realize that being late to your destination is better than not arriv- ing at all due to causing an accident because you had to do last-minute things in your car instead of at home. Thinking, "I can just call or text my friend back while I'm driving the kids to dance class" could be deadly and is something you can make a note about and do later. Kerrie McLoughlin is a mom of five and author of Fun, Frugal and Green Christmas. Road safety tips: • Keep snacks and bottles of water in the car for the kids to get into if they need them instead of you digging around for them and passing them back. • Pull over to soothe your baby instead of reaching back and trying to get a pacifier or bottle in his mouth. • Stow your phone somewhere in the car where you can't reach it and won't be tempted to answer it. Turning it off is also a good idea so you won't hear the ringing or dinging of it and get stressed out thinking it might be something urgent. Visit to download your copy of a Parent-Teen Driver Contract so new drivers know their boundaries and consequences of irresponsible driving.

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