Your car may be loaded with the newest safety features, but it might not keep you safe. Lane keep assist, lane departure warnings and back up cameras are all helpful, but if you have toddlers, you could have a distraction that leads to unsafe driving practices.  Read how a group of moms found that their kids could lead to distracted driving.

Distracted driving may be unavoidable, so making sure your tires are the best is critical for the safety of your family - the very ones distracting you

These toddlers may look like they are sleeping, but the can wake up and distract you. Credit: Nasreen Stump, Road Warrior TravelingMom

Having a spotless driving record is a badge of honor. But how many times have you come “this close” to having an accident? And then realizing that it was completely your fault?

Distracted driving is often blamed on cell phones, and texting and making calls are certainly factors in drawing your focus away from the road. But at an interactive distracted driving event at the Cooper Tire & Vehicle Test Center just outside San Antonio, Texas, I got schooled in distracted driving.

The culprit? A toddler.

This ‘toddler’ was actually an adult member of the public relations agency (though young enough to be my daughter) that organized a Ride and Drive to learn about Cooper Tires newest baby, special SUV tires called Discoverer SRX.  But while the Cooper Tire baby could help you stop on a dime, the distracting baby in the backseat could cause a mom or dad to drive off the road, hit an animal or oncoming car or take the wrong turn.

Don’t try to do it all

We know that women today are often super moms, holding full-time jobs while juggling parenthood, running marathons and finding time to plan romantic dates and fun-filled girlfriend getaways. But the reality is that while we are driving, we should be laser focused on the task at hand.

Distracted driving may be unavoidable, so making sure your tires are the best is critical for the safety of your family - the very ones distracting you

He looks adorable now, but he may grow bored in minutes. Credit: Anuja Da Silva, Cosmopolitan TravelingMom

This can be difficult if not impossible when driving around a bored toddler, who demands a radio change, a juice box, a snack, or other diversion. I spent many hours alone in cars with my older daughters, tossing them stuffed animals and tissues, singing to them or changing the CD or radio station. Yes, I know how that ages me: we didn’t have Sirius XM satellite radio when I was a young mom, and my kids liked Radio Disney, until a commercial came on.

But the driving simulation with Cooper Tires really opened my eyes as to how quickly that glance in the back seat for a dropped pacifier or a reach to the glove compartment for a wet wipe could pull my focus from the road. Cones were set up along a straightaway, and we had to drive 35 miles per hour, change lanes and back up the car, all while attending to the demands of our unhappy child. Imagine if you were also trying to follow a navigation system, check in with the office and apply a little lipstick. Oh, and avoid the gummi bears that your child was throwing at you from the back seat.

Teen drivers and millennials can also be distracted

Once those toddlers grow up, they will start driving and as digital natives, they will be glued to their phones. Siri eyes free, Bluetooth connections and steering wheels controls help keep eyes on the road, but do you want your young drivers to have any sort of handicap as they learn to drive?

The right tires can help

Your car may be loaded with the newest safety features, but it might not keep you safe. If you have toddlers, you could have a distraction that leads to unsafe driving practices.  Read how a group of moms found that their kids could lead to distracted driving!

Photo credit: Nasreen Stump / Road Warrior TravelingMom

In an ideal world, drivers could tune out complaining or bickering kids, but the reality is far different. And as SUVs and crossovers have supplanted minivans as the vehicle of choice for many parents, having a tire made specifically for this vehicle can help if you do lose focus in the car and start to skid. I learned that Cooper Tires also have a patented Wear Square that offers a visual of when to replace your tires – no matter how careful a driver you are, a worn out tire can be dangerous.

How are your kids in the car?

I was lucky in a way. My oldest daughter fell asleep as soon as the car started moving, so as long as we weren’t stuck in traffic, she rarely bothered me in the car. And by the time we had our third kid, she could be entertained by the other two.

But still, I was grateful for the reminder that the driver needs to tune out the others in the car and pay full attention to driving.

After all, one day I hope to be driving grandchildren around!

Note: I was Cooper Tires guest at their testing family: they paid for my travel and accommodations but did not provide compensation. Opinions expressed are my own.