Can moms truly drive distraction-free?

Can moms truly drive distraction-free?

News has been swirling all week about young mother Shawndeeia Bowen, who was arrested along the Los Angeles corridor for texting while driving with her baby in her lap and two other children unsecured in the back seat. What would normally remain a local story has become nationwide news due to Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Be Car Chic is again this year running the Distraction Free Fridays (#DFF on Twitter) campaign in order to educate others on the dangers of driving without giving your full attention to the road. We are encouraging everyone to pledge to put their devices aside and focus on their drive every Friday with the hopes that they’ll begin thinking about it every day. Today, we want to shed light on the challenges mothers face in this digitally connected life we lead.

The story of Bowen is about more than driving distracted – it’s about moms who are often forced to multitask when behind the wheel.

I’m not a mother, so my knowledge is not firsthand. But I can easily imagine the challenge of calming your crying baby or upset toddler from the driver’s seat. I’m pretty sure this is a dilemma moms everywhere find themselves struggling with. One mom from Austin Moms Blog had this to say about hers and another mom’s struggle with this tempting habit:

As parents, our priority is…well there are a ton…but one of them is the safety of our children and anytime we get on the phone while driving, even to make a phone call, we are losing our focus on the road and putting our children in danger.

Earlier this week, while making my daily commute to east Austin, I observed a woman with two car seat-aged children texting while driving and swerving into the shoulder.  I was so angry! Not only because she was swerving and then slamming on her breaks but she kept doing it for at least 3 miles with her precious babies in the car. What was so important at 7:30 am?

Now, don’t get me wrong–I hate to be a hypocrite, I text and drive, but I try my best not to do it while on a highway, during rush hour or when there are kids in the car.  BUT that’s not the point…I still do it and it’s still dangerous.  Even if my baby isn’t in the car that doesn’t mean someone else’s baby isn’t in the car that I might crash into.

This excerpt shows just two mothers’ challenge with staying focused on the road ahead. Moms are multitasking all the time. We were designed to multitask, distributing our attention to many people and tasks seamlessly. So how do moms multitask safely in the car? Or can they?

Image courtesy of

Remember back in 2006, when Britney Spears was caught driving with her infant in her lap?

That was before the big distracted driving push from the Department of Transportation and its Secy. Ray LaHood. Would the story line have been different had she been on the phone at the same time?

What I’m trying to say here is that mothers are often faced with so many challenging decisions of where to direct their attention. It’s always their children versus work, personal time, spouse, friends, or just everything else. I hope that Ms. Bowen will be grateful to have learned a life lesson without the sacrifice of any lives.

The national exposure of this incident should encourage mothers to make smart decisions in the car for the sake of their children and others on the road.

If you’re a mom who takes distracted driving seriously, then please tweet the following to bring awareness to other mothers in your networks:

I’m a #mom who cares about my kid’s safety. That’s why I’m taking the Distraction Free Fridays pledge to drive safer. #DFF #DDAM

Asking the audience:

What are some ways that mothers can both attend to their children while driving without taking their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel? Please share your insightful tips in the comments below.

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. phoenix at 2:36 PM

    Dads drive too.

    The simple answer to this is the same today as it was 20, 30, or 60 years ago: When you’re driving, you DRIVE the car. If the kid needs your attention, you find a safe place to pull over.

    Doesn’t seem very complicated to me.

  2. Melanie Batenchuk Author at 7:13 AM

    Phoenix – Thanks for your feedback. Dads absolutely have the same set of challenges when they’re driving with the kids in the back seat.

    I think where the issue becomes more complex is the feeling many parents have today to stay connected with their work and friends when they’re on-the-go.