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How to set a better example behind the wheel

When you drive with kids, there’s a lot to think about. How to keep them safe. How to keep them entertained. How to keep them quiet. But regardless of what happens in the back seat or out the window, the one thing the kids are always watching is you. This means that while you’re driving, they’re observing and learning, for better or for worse. So unless you want to spend their teen years counting your own grey hairs, you’ll want to set the best example you can behind the wheel, starting now. Here are a few tips:

Tailgaters

Vehicles that drive too close to your bumper can be both irritating and dangerous. Nearly one third of all rear-end accidents are caused by tailgating. However, reacting to tailgaters appropriately can be difficult. For many of us, our first reaction is to wave our arms, tap our brakes or, let’s face it, drop some less than PG language. However, as a role model, there’s really only one good choice. If someone is riding your tail, do the right thing and pull over.

Road rage

Between traffic, stop lights, pedestrians and construction delays, driving can be downright maddening. But unleashing that frustration behind the wheel only reinforces bad behavior to our kids. So calm down, cool off and gather yourself before you sound off. Your children will learn from your composure and will hopefully emulate it themselves when it’s time for them to drive.

Speeding

Between soccer practice, ballet recitals, school and work, many parents are in a hurry. The temptation to speed is real. Now, thanks to modern technology, vehicles have things like head-up display (HUD) and in-car speed alerts, which can inform you, as well as your passengers, whether you’re obeying the posted speed limits. So lighten your lead foot, because not only is speeding dangerous, it’s no secret anymore.

Respect authority

Being a responsible driver also means showing respect for those that keep us safe. Pull over for emergency workers, slow down in construction zones and honor law enforcement. Although speed traps, check points and traffic violation stops can be inconvenient, kids need to understand that the men and women in uniform are hired to protect and serve. Even if that means that sometimes Mommy or Daddy have to go to traffic school.

Distracted driving

It is hard not to be tempted by distracted driving, even when you’re aware of its dangers. Besides being deadly, it is also increasingly illegal as more and more states and cities pass initiatives to curb hand held smart phone use. If you think you can sneak a quick Tweet behind the wheel, think again. Even if other drivers can’t see you checking your email, your backseat drivers can. So put your phone away, because no matter how urgent that message/email/or text is, it will never be as important than your most precious cargo.

Being a good parent is hard. But driving like one isn’t. Just follow the traffic rules, control your temper and stay off of your phone. If all else fails, drive like someone is watching, because they are.