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Distracted driving and kids in the car

Are you a parent?

If so, it may not surprise you to find out that having your children in the car can literally drive you to distraction.

A study by accident researchers at Monash University confirms many parents' suspicions that backseat battles and toddler tantrums are serious driving distractions -- but it may startle parents to find out just how much of a distraction they really are.

When parents have their kids in the car, cellphones only account for 1 percent of all distracted driving incidents -- the kids, on the other hand, are behind 12 percent. In fact, kids can be counted on to distract a parent from his or her primary task -- driving -- almost three and a half minutes of a sixteen-minute trip!

What are parents doing instead of watching the road?

  • Watching the kids via the rear view mirror or over a shoulder.
  • Fishing in a bag to find the kids snacks, drinks or entertainment.
  • Talking with their children.
  • Playing with their children.

Naturally, it's a lot easier to turn off your phone than it is to get a child to sit quietly in the car -- but there are solutions to the problem:

  • Make sure that your child's car seat or booster seat is properly positioned and secured. You won't have to worry about the chair coming loose even if your child is fidgeting or tugging at the straps.
  • If you're going to allow snacks and drinks in the car, put the bag where the kids can reach it. All but the youngest children can easily get what they need.
  • A better solution is to not allow snacks on short rides -- the kids will survive and you won't have to worry about getting a sippy cup stuck under your brake pedal.
  • Try to ignore bickering, fighting, yelling and crying. While it may be difficult, ignoring a child's momentary distress is better than getting into an accident.
  • If you can't ignore it, pull over. Find a safe spot, park the car and see what's going on.

Despite your efforts to stay safe, you may not be able to avoid an accident if another driver is distracted by the kids in his or her car. If that happens, it may be time to seek legal advice about your right to compensation.

Source: Medical Daily, "Kids In Cars 12 Times More Distracting For Drivers Than Talking On Cell Phone," Chris Weller, accessed July 21, 2017

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