City roads can be busy, fast paced, hectic and dangerous. This holds true for us here in Hong Kong, and holds true for drivers in major metropolitan areas the world over.
We tend to place the blame for this on the busy business executives racing towards their meetings, the truck driver or postal working trying to make a delivery or the cab driver running late for a fare. However, a recent survey published by Parents.com partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide has shed some light on another culprit. Moms!
That’s right. Whether we are shuttling our kids between practices and lessons, or running on empty after a sleepless night caring for a sick child or a cranky baby, we can be a menace on the roads. Though a majority of new moms claim to be more cautious drivers after giving birth, the statistics uncovered by the study tell a whole different story. Moms get behind the wheel when they are tired. We talk on our phones while driving. We are always in a hurry. In fact, Dennis Durbin, a pediatric emergency physician and scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia even compared the rate of distracted moms behind the wheel to that of distracted teenage drivers. Wow!
The irony of all this is that, compared to the delivery drivers, cabbies and postal workers, we are the ones carrying the most precious cargo: our babies.
As moms, and particularly as working moms, we are bound to have a lot going on in our lives, and many of these distractions will be unavoidable. Almost three quarters of moms say they are more flustered in their day to day lives since having children and a full two thirds find it difficult to focus on one task (like driving!). Being busy and flustered is simply something that comes with the territory, but do you know what isn’t? Cell phones! We need to remove as many distractions as we can, and the cellphone is a great place to start. Even in newer cars, where we can communicate hands free via blue tooth – we are still losing focus.
Kate Carr, the president of Safe Kids Worldwide, believes that it is now part of our culture to not just drive, but to do twenty other things at once. 98% of parents driving with a child report that they feel distracted for nearly a third of the time they are on the road, so it makes little sense to add to that by applying makeup or chatting on our phones. Remember, whether you are dealing with a fussy child, an important phone call or runny eyeliner, pulling over is always an option. Personally, I like to turn my cellphone to silent and place it in the backseat.
The survey conducted revealed that moms, on average, log less hours of sleep than long haul truck drivers, while driving 150 miles a week running errands. A third of the moms polled suggested that they had gotten behind the wheel of a car despite feeling too tired to do so. Before driving it is important to assess whether you are too tired to drive. It is better to take alternative transportation or reschedule your errand than it is to drive sleepy. If you absolutely must drive, consider taking caffeine of some kind or an energy drink. These are not the healthiest options, and should be avoided in pregnancy, but they will give you a small jolt of energy.
The survey also revealed that eight percent of moms have left their kids in the car while running errands. This has little to do with driving, but please don’t do this! The amount of moms leaving children in the car should be zero!
With accident rates that rival teenagers, sleeping habits that rival truckers and distraction levels that are unrivalled, it is not surprising that moms struggle with driving. Hopefully this post will help you make a U-turn towards safer habits!