When you consider all of the driving behaviors that comprise the category of "distracted driving," what do you think of?
Texting, talking on cellphones, fiddling with the sound system, applying make-up or even grabbing a quick bite or sipping on a mug of coffee may all come to mind. But few drivers are likely to list having children as passengers.
Parents are so used to loading the kids up in the car several times a day that they don't realize how distracting it is to interact with their offspring while driving.
Research done by Australian scientists showed that kids riding in the car is a dozen times more of a distraction to drivers than cellphone conversations. On average, moms and dads glance away from the road during a drive of 16 minutes for nearly three and a half minutes — that's almost a quarter of the entire drive.
What leads to the distractions?
If you are a parent, you've experienced it all at one time or another. From "he's touching me!" squabbles to actual fisticuffs, chances are good that you've turned around a few times to referee or separate scrapping siblings.
With babies, it's often an arm off of the steering wheel and extended behind as parents feel around blindly for dropped bottles and pacifiers to soothe their babies' tears. As such, driving with babies is eight times more of a distraction than when a driver has adults as passengers.
The mere presence of kids in the back seat on a drive usually induces moms and dads to adjust the rearview mirror from its road view to the kids behind them at least once.
Solutions for safer family driving
With kids age 3 and older, parents need to review the driving rules before ever leaving home. Insist the rules are followed uniformly so the children know what is expected of them. Reinforce that any dropped items can't be retrieved until the driver stops the car. Also, software like bSafeMobile can be used to block texts and calls while driving.
If you or your family members get injured in an accident with an at-fault driver who was distracted, you can pursue a claim for damages and/or file a civil lawsuit in the Kentucky courts.
Source: ABC News, "One of the Worst Driving Distractions on the Road: Your Kids," Paula Faris, accessed Aug. 11, 2017