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■ play it safe


Bad Drivers A Legacy of


Why we must set better examples for our children behind the wheel.


BY GUY DALE COORDINATOR OF SAFETY & LOSS CONTROL


L


ast month I shared about focused driving and how a lack of focus due to texting, adjusting the radio or talking on the phone, can negatively affect our driving. But I missed an important point: What about the example we set to the children who ride with us? After all, It’s human nature that children often mimic the behaviors and actions of their parents.


With all the distracted adult drivers on the road today, what kind of drivers will our children become? Will we pay for our multi-tasking behavior with even more vehicle accidents and casualties? What can we do to avoid this fate?


 12 | may 2013


Survey Says Parent’s Driving Habits Have an Impact on Kids


In a survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance, over half of the teens said they use


a phone while driving, while six out of 10 parents admitted to also using their phone and steering at the same time, despite the extremely dangerous effect on driving performance.





A good place to start is with ourselves, and the example we set for our own kids when we get behind the wheel.





First, make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly secured with seatbelts fastened and car seats buckled.





Explain the rule about no phone use while driving to your kids. Kids make great reminders; if you get the rules in their mind they will remind you when you slip up.





Teach older children to answer calls for you. They can relay important messages and tell the caller you are driving and will return the call as soon as it is safe to do so. Your children will love the responsibility and you will be modeling good habits for them.


Provide children with things to do (books, travel games, etc.) to keep them occupied so they are not distracting you while you are driving.


Teen drivers present a different set of problems, yet they are most at risk. Nearly 50 percent of today’s teens admit to texting while driving, which increases the chance of crashing by 23 times.


Teens can be hard to convince, particularly if your idea of driving safely differs from their own. When that happens (and it will), be honest and upfront with them. Explain the consequences of distracted driving in real terms. Countless teens have died from car accidents while texting or talking on the phone. You don’t want your child to be the next.


Most importantly, remember that children may hear you when you speak, but they learn by the example you set. Don’t wait until your child reaches driving age to start being a good example for him or her. Even making small exceptions for distracted driving can not only jeopardize your safety at the moment, but also have a great impact on your teens’ driving habits and their safety in the future.


When you demonstrate the behaviors you wish to develop in your children on a daily basis, you may be surprised at the transformation. Be focused, drive safe, teach well, and live longer. ■


Guy Dale oversees safety programs for Choctaw Electric Cooperative. He also teaches electrical safety classes. To schedule a class, please call him at 800-780-6486, ext. 227.


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