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Could your children be driving you to distraction in the car?

Every parent knows that young children can be difficult to manage in a car -- but is that difficulty translating into actual danger on the road?

For many parents, the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" The parents of small children are particularly vulnerable to distractions while they are behind the wheel -- and distracted driving kills. In fact, it's estimated that distracted driving is actually responsible for up to 80 percent of the car crashes that happen.

How badly do parents get distracted on the road when kids are in the car? If you have a baby in the car, you're eight times more likely to be distracted than you would be by another adult. If you have a child of another age, you are four times more likely to be distracted than you would be otherwise.

The distractions caused by children in cars are virtually endless. Your child might be a miniature escape artist, unbuckling his or her seat while you're weaving through traffic on the way to the day care. You might also have to handle a child crying over a toy that's rolled under a seat, a sick child or one that just wants to hear a favorite song -- again -- on the CD player. All of those things can take your attention off the road.

What can you do to reduce the distractions when you're on the road with a child? When possible, take along another passenger that can attend to your child's needs while you focus on driving. When that isn't possible, however, you have to train your child to understand that you cannot respond to requests for dropped toys, snacks, or other basic requests until the car is in park -- and stick to your word. Eventually, your child will come to accept that your attention won't be diverted when the car is in motion.

If there's a true emergency (like a toddler that has managed to get out of his or her safety restraints), pull over at the nearest opportunity to handle the issue. Never attempt to manage anything like that while you're in motion.

There's no doubt that driving with a child -- especially an unhappy one that wants your immediate attention -- is stressful. However, a serious car accident would be far more stressful in the long run.

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