Driving While Under the Influence of Children

When it comes to things that are most likely to kill you, car accidents fall somewhere between heart disease and an astroid falling down from the sky.  That said, with so many parents driving under the influence (of children, that is) it’s a wonder that any of us can make it to the kid’s school in the morning with both our cars and our sanity fully intact.

In any given car journey with our children, us drivers are presented with infinite number of distractions – from the infamous “your breath is touching my seat” of a sibling on the cusp of verbal warfare to the “I dropped my (insert name of toy)” scream of an impatient toddler.  Yet, as drivers, we must stay focused on the road while giving the appearance of being attentive to our children’s needs as we safely drive to our destination.  That is, of course, without making good on the threat to “turn the car around,” throwing objects from the front seat at the backseat passengers, and unloading everyone out of the car and driving off into the sunset of sweet freedom.

After a particularly challenging drive to the grocery store this morning (that involved an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich assaulting every interior surface of my car), I decided to compare the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol to driving under the influence of children (DUIC) to see if there are any similarities.  Not so shockingly, the answer is a resounding, “yes.”

According to the experts at “google search,” alcohol:

  • Slows down the functions of the central nervous system.
  • Affects information-processing skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Impairs skills that safe driving requires – such as judgment, concentration, comprehension, and reaction time.
  • Increases the chances of being in an accident with every drink.

According to “me,” children:

  • Shatter the function of driver’s nervous system by shouting all the things they forgot at home, coupled with a logic train for why their lack of appropriate outerwear is the driver’s fault.
  • Convince the driver that their information-processing skills are wrong and subpar to that of their 7 year old friend Andy who said that some turtles, can, in fact, live forever.  The frustrated driver soon realizes that instead of drinking their coffee while arguing basic facts with the child, they have just spent the last 5 minutes pouring the coffee directly into their ear.
  • Impair skills such as:
    • Judgment – after the better part of an hour debating the merits of teeth brushing with the under 10 crowd, driver begins to question their judgement in having children in the first place.
    • Concentration – as the driver tries to focus on directions from the GPS, passengers begin to act like their own GPS system, yelling directions contrary to that of the appropriate device intended to serve this sole purpose.  With concentration impaired, driver starts to follow directions in tandem with the lyrics of the Hokey Pokey while it is playing on the radio.
    • Comprehension – After just 10 minutes of DUIC, drivers may find that they cannot understand why the orange they gave the child in their lunch box 3 weeks ago has become the subject of the child’s story about why they are currently and tremendously upset right now.
    • Reaction time – Drivers with DUCI may not be able to dodge the empty drink container headed directly at them before contact is made.
  • The amount of children in the car correlates directly with increased effects of DUIC.

 

Given the similarities, it is a wonder that anyone with kids can get anywhere safely.  I guess that makes parents superhuman, just like Thor, whom Andy told us he saw yesterday in McDonalds.

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