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Kids in the car can be a bigger distraction than your phone

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Personal Injury

Most motorists are well familiar with the dangers of distracted driving. Texting, talking on the phone and fiddling with the radio can take your focus away from the road. This can increase the risk of accidents. But what if another culprit is lurking in the backseat – your own children?

Studies have shown that having children in the car can be even more distracting than using a smartphone behind the wheel. This might come as no surprise, considering the hands-on nature of tending to a child’s needs.

Why kids can be a bigger distraction

The key difference between phone use and children as distractions lies in the emotional element. While a phone notification might grab your attention for a fleeting moment, children’s demands are often persistent and emotionally charged. A crying baby, a fight between siblings or a sudden need for a bathroom break – these situations can trigger a strong urge to take your eyes off the road and attend to your child immediately.

Research from the Monash University Accident Research Center in Australia found that drivers with children in the car take their eyes off the road for a significantly longer duration compared to those using phones. The study revealed that during a typical 16-minute drive, parents looked away for an average of 3.5 minutes to address their children’s needs. This seemingly small difference in time can translate to a significant increase in the risk of an accident.

Another factor is the unpredictability of children’s behavior. Unlike a phone that remains silent until you interact with it, a child’s actions can be sudden and require immediate attention. This constant state of divided focus can be mentally draining and hinder your ability to react quickly to situations on the road.

Remember, the most important thing is to arrive at your destination safely. By acknowledging the potential distraction children can pose, you can help ensure a smooth and focused driving experience for you and your family.