Parents in Illinois probably realize that driving with kids in the car can be a big distraction. To keep everyone safe and prevent avoidable accidents, parents should recognize some of the main issues and know how to deal with them so they do not become a problem.

According to Parents, around 80% of all vehicle accidents are due to distracted driving, and drivers who have young kids in the car are more vulnerable. Some examples of ways kids can distract the driver include:

  • Dropping a toy or food on the floor
  • Crying or screaming
  • Asking for a certain song on the stereo
  • Asking for food or drink
  • Requesting a movie in the DVD player

Parents also tend to operate cars on very little sleep, and this greatly contributes to inattentiveness and slow reaction times. Combine any or all of these distractions with cell phone use, and the chances of getting into a crash increase dramatically.

The Children’s Hospital of Colorado offers some tips for parent drivers. Before getting into the car, it is a good idea to have a plan to occupy the kids. Bring along audio books or make a playlist of favorite songs. It also helps to feed everyone before, so no one is asking for snacks while driving.

When children can understand, lay down a set of rules and explain it will keep everyone safe. The rules may include no throwing, no whining, no fighting and no cell phone use (for parents). Give them consequences for breaking the rules, and make sure to follow through. Parents should also make it clear they cannot help anyone in the back until they are safely pulled over and stopped.

Sometimes even the best-laid plans can backfire. Parents should not feel guilty if they ignore what is going on, and if things get really frustrating, it is ok to pull over and get emotions under control.