Are you a multitasking machine? Most mothers are! There’s no way to avoid the fact that you have to multitask when you’re constantly accompanied by your mini-me. Even so, multitasking is dangerous on the road. Let’s talk about that, plus four more driving mistakes moms make. If you recently had a baby, please note #3!

1. Multitasking in the car.

Moms could moonlight as jugglers. It’s not easy to mess with the radio, put on make-up, and toss some napkins to your messy kid at the same time. Nevertheless, we do it everyday… while driving fast!

This balancing act might make for an incredible performance (but it’s a dangerous one). In all honesty, only one thing should be on your mind when you’re driving… driving! Who saw that one coming? 😉

Understand: “Multitasking” doesn’t mean what you think it means. You’re not literally performing two different activities at the same exact time. Instead, you go back and forth from one thing to another.

For example, it’s impossible to eat a sandwich while you turn the steering wheel. You can take a bite of turkey in one moment and steer right in the next one. But you can’t do both things simultaneously.

The car in front of you comes to a sudden stop. You don’t notice right away, because you were too busy enjoying your lunch. Will you be able to react in time to avoid an accident? We can only hope…

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 3,477 people in 2016 and injured 391,000 more. Distractions are a factor in 10% of car wrecks.

If there’s a new driver in your family, please hear me. You can’t tell your teenager to focus when you’re constantly distracted. You’ve gotta be a good example (or get called a hypocrite – your call!).

2. Failing to leave on time.

Mornings are the worst. You hit the snooze button several times before staggering out of bed. Your kids refuse to wake up without a fight. You can’t be late for work, because it’s your manager’s top pet peeve.

Most people don’t make great driving decisions when they’re in a rush. It’s easier to justify the choice to drive aggressively, break the speed limit, run a red light, or cut a driver off when you’re running behind.

Stop putting yourself in these sorts of situations. For one thing, you could get busted by a police officer. There’s nothing like a speeding ticket to slow you down! For another, you’re taking unnecessary risks that raise your odds of having a wreck.  

“Think positive,” is good advice most of the time; but in this special case, I want you to think negative. Imagine all the things that could make you late. Maybe your kid wets the bed, spills juice everywhere, or throws a temper tantrum when you’re walking out the door.  

If everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong, how long would it take you to get ready? Set your alarm with that amount of time on mind. You’ll never have to rush or drive like a maniac again. Will you be early? Probably! That’s okay. Bring a book or crossword puzzle to entertain yourself.

3. Paying attention to your baby.

This might sound harsh, but you really shouldn’t turn around to check on your crying baby. “Why not?” It’s the same thing as multitasking (#1). How will you notice a chicken crossing the road when you’re not paying any attention to your surroundings? (That was a trick question, because you won’t!)

It’s difficult to resist your motherly instinct, but please do your best. Your child is probably 100% fine. Kids cry for a lot of reasons. They might be bored, hungry, or tired. Or they might just want attention. Who knows? Regardless of the specifics, you can rest assured it’s probably not a life-or-death situation.

If you’re genuinely worried (or just plain stubborn), at least pull over before you check on the baby. How much can you really help or comfort your mini-me when you’re busy driving a vehicle, anyway? Also, pro-tip: keep a spare pacifier and box of toys in the backseat. Kids fuss less when they have ways to stay busy.

4. Driving when you can’t stay awake.

Would you hop in the car immediately after taking a shot (or three) of tequila? I seriously hope not. That would be a horrible idea!

Believe it or not, sleepy driving is almost as dangerous as drunk driving. Research confirms this truth. Think about it. How many dumb mistakes have you made at work after a rough night of sleep?

Exhaustion has a negative effect on your performance. This applies to work, school, exercise, driving, and everything else. So don’t be afraid to pull over for a nap. No one will judge or condemn you for it.

Find a safe and well-lit place to stop. If it’s hot, crack the windows or leave the A/C  on for your child. Set your alarm for 10-20 minutes later. Lock the door, lean your seat back, and enjoy a nice power nap.

5. Letting stress influence your behavior.

There’s no denying it. Driving is stressful at times. Heck, I’m a New Yorker, so I know this very well! Some of our taxi drivers have a death wish (or that’s the only theory that makes sense in my head).

Stressed or not, you can’t let it get to your head. Nervous drivers make more mistakes than calm ones. Listen to soothing music or repeat a mantra when you feel anxious: “Nothing can frazzle me today.” Deep breathing helps, too!

Share this article with the moms in your life so they can prevent these driving mistakes. They will appreciate the thought!

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