Published on September 16th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

Back to School Means Back To Diligent Driving

Alexandria Durrell is a freelance writer who, despite rumours to the contrary, blogs about everything from DIY to parenting at She can also be found writing about allergies for the Yummy Mummy Club blog Irritated by Allergies and tweeting about her breakfast as @Clippo.

My husband loves the summer, but not for reasons you might expect. He has a lengthy commute, so once school’s out, traffic on the roads is significantly lighter, making his drive that much smoother. Even in our small town, the roads are a much more pleasant place to be when rushed parents aren’t racing to get kids off to school, or make it to daycare drop-off on time. But over the summer it’s easy to forget how diligent we have to be as drivers.

Back to school season is the perfect time to refocus on diligent driving habits. With the addition of extra cars, busses, bicycle and foot traffic, we need to keep eyes on the road and not on our smartphones. Even just glancing down to check that text, or checking the map to see which street to turn onto takes your eyes off the road for precious seconds when anything can happen. Did you know that distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash when compared to non-distracted drivers? I know that as a parent of young kids, I have more than enough distraction happening in my vehicle without adding my cellphone to the mix.

More than one quarter of all collisions (that’s upwards of 4 million crashes across North America!) are the result of distracted driving, and that’s something we all have the power to change. It is startling to see just how many mistakes are made while people are checking their phones – I live near a four-way stop, and the number of people who breeze on through while on their phones is scary! No text is important enough to risk a crash. No call is too important that the rules of the road should be neglected.

Nobody wants to be in a crash. Nobody wants to injure anyone else. And we need to remember that it can happen to us in an instant when we let our eyes wander.

Here are some great tips for minimizing distractions:

Before you drive:

  • Allow plenty of travel time
  • Review maps and directions
  • Turn off mobile device
  • Stow and secure loose objects
  • Prepare children with everything they need
  • Secure pets properly
  • Pre-set climate control and radio
  • Pre-program route on GPS

While you’re driving:

  • Allow phone calls to go to voicemail
  • Don’t text, surf the web or read emails
  • Avoid eating, drinking or smoking
  • Avoid grooming
  • Stop at a safe location to make or receive phone calls
  • Keep two hands on the wheel for better control
  • Keep your eyes and mind on the road

Even better: by modeling good driving habits, our kids will learn these too, giving great hope to future drivers and the safety on our roads.

Did you know that teens learn most of their driving habits from watching their parents drive? They will model the behaviours they see from us, and by buckling up, not using handheld devices, obeying the rules of the road and being diligent, undistracted drivers, we’re helping them become road responsible, too.

Even though my own kids are quite a few years away from being able to drive, we talk about driving a lot, and I’m careful about my behaviour on the roads. I hope to show them how to be focused and safe on the roads so when their time behind the wheel comes, they’re equipped with safe habits. It might not always be easy to let the phone go to voicemail, or resist checking alerts as they arrive, so it might be a good idea to leave the phone somewhere out of arm’s reach so it’s even less a temptation while you’re behind the wheel.

Driving takes all our attention, and if we all work together, our roads will be safer for everyone. Make your promise to focus on the road by clicking the button below and make a commitment to creating safer roads and communities.



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