Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 5, 2013

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Moms and Distracted DrivingOne of the top causes of fatal car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is distracted driving. The NHTSA estimates that about 8,000 crashes per day can be attributed to distracted driving. A recent poll, taken by American Baby and Safe Kids Worldwide, demonstrates that distraction and fatigue are putting our most precious cargo at risk, our own children. In this poll, over 2,000 moms with children under the age of 2 were questioned about their driving. While the vast majority of the moms reported that they are more cautious drivers since having children, the rest of the data showed just the opposite. In fact, 10% of surveyed moms reported being in an accident while their baby was in the car. That is more than three times the rate in the general population.

Most parents know that fatigue and distraction comes with the territory, and these factors can adversely impact a parent’s ability to use reasonable care while driving. While it is nearly impossible to eliminate these factors from our daily lives as parents, here are some things you can do make the next trip in your car with baby that much safer.

Slow Down | The American Baby/Safe Kids survey revealed that moms of young children are logging in an average of 5 hours and 20 minutes of consecutive sleep a night. You are already at a cognitive disadvantage because you’re tired, exhausted even. Slow down. Your reaction time is diminished because you are fatigued, which makes driving fast that much more hazardous. Be late and be safe.

Crying Baby – Pull Over | Most moms know that a crying baby creates the bodily sensation of what amounts to an emergency. The reaction may be to try and figure out why the baby is crying while driving, or worse, to try and fix the issue while driving (64% of moms indicated they did so). Speeding up to get to the final destination quicker is also a common response. Yet the safest response is to take a deep breath and calmly pull over when the time and place are right. Get off the road safely and then you can help your child.

Mobile Devices – Back Seat | Oh so tempting. A whopping 78% of surveyed moms indicated they spoke on the phone while driving with their babies and 26% texted or checked email. As reported on Parents.com, research shows that drivers are four times more likely to have an accident while driving and talking on the phone, even when conversations are hands-free. This makes mobile device distraction one of the top risk factors for car accidents. Even if you are not primarily responsible for an accident, the fact that you are on the phone, texting or checking email could lead to your being found partially at fault. (This is called Comparative Negligence.) One way to keep temptation at bay is to put your phone/tablet in the back seat or trunk of your car. You can’t do it if you can’t reach it.