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Mom's Biggest Driving Mistakes

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author photo by Brandy Schaffels, Contributing Editor and Mother of Two November 2007

I stumbled across this post by Emily Bloch from parenting.com and it reminded me so much of my very own life as a mother of two. Emily says "Let's face it: In our constantly rushed and sleep-deprived state, we moms often don't drive as safely as we should." She's not kidding here. I remember driving to work one morning, and coming out of my exhausted stupor just in time to realize I had driven several miles past my designated exit. Ooops!

According to Emily, "Car crashes are the leading cause of death for those ages 3 to 33. And nearly 80 percent of accidents result from driver distractions of just three seconds -- like handing a child a sippy cup!." Many of her situations are so familiar, I thought it worthwhile to share her tips with other moms who might appreciate a refresher course on how to eliminate common driving mistakes, so we can provide a safer 'taxi service' to our kids. Read the complete article from parenting.com.

Put down the cell phone.
The first and most obvious suggestion she makes is to stop yapping on the cell phone. Even though we many of us think we can drive and talk at the same time, studies show the more you have to say, the less attention you are paying while driving. Even if you're using a headset to chat hands-free, Emily says, "it doesn't matter how many hands you have on the wheel if you're not focused on the road." So put the phone in the purse and try to leave it there, even if you can hear it ringing.

Don't drive while drowsy.
Driving while sleepy is also a serious problem. Most parents acknowledge that that they're not getting the same amount of sleep they were accustomed to before the baby arrived. Studies show driving while sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving after drinking.  Emily says "you should never underestimate how drowsiness can hamper your driving," and recommends getting a good night's rest (7 to 9 hours) whenever possible.

Don't speed, or overestimate your driving skills.
It's ironic, because as much as we tend to point our fingers at men for their cocky behavior, women can be just as aggressive behind the wheel. Usually it's because we've got a laundry list of things to do on a tight deadline, but regardless of the reasons, doubling the speed limit to save a minute or two is not the best solution.

Don't eat while driving.
I don't know about you, but a cup of coffee and a muffin was my usual breakfast in the car. Plus, I drive a manual transmission! It's not hard to note the diversity between the number of items I was juggling vs. the number of hands I needed to drive, shift, and eat. It might not seem like a big deal, "but when you look down at your food for a second, you're missing what's in front of you," says Arlene Greenspan, senior scientist at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in Atlanta, Georgia. Emily recommends you save the snacks for red lights and stop signs.

Don't attend to your kids while driving.
Just last year, I was pulled over by the police while driving home from the grocery store; apparently, they thought I was driving erratically. I had reached behind me to pick up an apple dropped onto the floor by the hungry child in the back seat, and they thought I was, er, under the influence. The policeman chastised me, saying, "Next time, pull over to tend to your child's needs." And now we've got Emily saying it too. They must be on to something!

Keep your car properly maintained.
Oil changes, proper fluid levels, functioning headlights and turn signals, warning lights, and properly inflated tires are all important aspects to your vehicle's safe operation. Emily says "To be safe, you need to take care of your car," which can be especially easy if you follow her simple checklist everytime you fill your tank.

These are all simple reminders to alert us to the many ways we can be safer drivers. Emily's article (http://askpatty.typepad.com/ask_patty_/2007/05/safety_driving_.html) is full of safety tips to help busy moms avoid these driving mistakes and be safer moms. Be sure to check it out.

©2007 AskPatty.com, Inc.

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Mom's Biggest Driving Mistakes - Autotrader