Many studies suggest that driving with children in the car can cause distractions for the driver. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, children create four times the distraction to drivers as adult passengers do, while infants are nearly eight times as disturbing. But perhaps the most worrying discovery is that drivers with children can be twelve times more distracted than drivers using a cell phone.
Researchers at an Australian university decided to study compare the distraction risks of children and mobile phones while driving. For three weeks, 12 families had all of their car trips recorded by cameras installed in their vehicles. In the 92 trips analyzed by the researchers, 90 showed children engaging in distracting activity, resulting in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of three minutes and 22 seconds per 16-minute car journey. If the research is correct, parents could be ignoring the road for nearly 25 percent of their drive time.
Warning Signs That Children Are Distracting You from Driving
These studies identified some behaviors that can help parents identify when their children are demanding a dangerous level of attention:
- Backseat passengers. Children traveling in the rear seats are a major source of distracting activity. Over 75 percent of these diversions involve turning around in the seat to look at children or watching them in a rear-view mirror—both of which take focus away from the road.
- Multitasking. Many parents are distracted while carrying on conversations or playing with children, or assisting them by handing out snacks or looking for lost toys.
- Male drivers. Video evidence showed that fathers were more likely to engage in potentially distracting activities with children, and they also tended to remain distracted for longer periods than mothers.
- Failure to hand off child activities. Having an adult copilot in the front seat can be invaluable when it comes to meeting the needs of children in the car. However, studies indicate that drivers continued to perform distracting child-related activities despite having a front seat passenger to hand off the non-driving tasks.
Do you know someone who regularly drives with children in the car? Please consider this article on Facebook to help keep your friends and family safe. If you need help after a car accident, fill out the form on this page today to set up your free consultation.