When distracted driving comes up, many people think of texting, eating, applying makeup, or talking on the phone. People don’t immediately put children in this category, but according to an Australian study, children are 12 times more likely to cause distracted driving than talking on the phone.
Once we think about it, it makes sense that children would be one of the worst driving distractions. Parents adjust children’s toys, take trash, look back and talk to or reprimand their children, and break up fights. When I was little, my mother would read my spelling list to me and hold my hand while she was driving, and I thought nothing of it.
Safety issues other than just normal distractions are also present while driving with children. Many parents report having their rear view mirror pointed at the children instead of through the back window, and screaming children may block out the sound of a car horn or a siren on the road.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that children are about four times as distracting as adult passengers, and babies are about eight times as distracting as the adults. With babies come new problems: inconsolable crying and screaming, throwing objects, spit ups and dirty diapers, and anything else that can happen with a baby basically anywhere. A Loyola University Health System study reported “almost 60 percent of US parents believe driving alone with infants in rear-facing car seats in back seats is ‘very distracting.’"
It is practically impossible to avoid driving with children, but some ways to make your driving safer with them in the car are to set car rules for your kids, keep a snack bag for them in the backseat, reduce other distracted driving habits, and pull over if you really need to attend to the children. Drive safe!