Campaigns across the country are focused on eliminating texting while driving. Police Officers in every state try to enforce DUI laws and eliminate drinking and driving. But what about the biggest distraction of them all? Ask any mother.
Children are 12 times more distracting to the driver than talking on a cell phone, according to a new Australian study. According to their research, the average parent takes their eyes off the road for a staggering three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip.
Between, “are we there yet?” “I want a snack!” “He’s touching me!” “She’s poking me!” and the ever fussy baby, parents are lucky to get from point A to point B. According to the AAA, babies are eight times more distracting to the driver than adult passengers.
One mother, who installed cameras in her car and allowed her actions to be monitored for the study showed several distractions although she claimed to be a safe driver. As she was driving 55 to 60 miles per hour on the highway and glanced away from the road to settle a squabble, pick up a candy wrapper, adjust the DVD player and keep an eye on the kids.
Research shows that a text message takes a drivers attention for anywhere between 9-12 seconds. Children can divert attention for three times that long.
Fathers and new mothers are supposed to be the worst offenders. Children distract the men more and for longer periods of time and new mothers are both sleep deprived and pre-occupied with their new bundle of joy. Almost 10 percent of new moms have an accident while driving with their baby. That’s nearly three times the rate in the general population.
There is no doubting that kids can be stressful both in and out of the car. There are a few solutions that parents can implement to keep everyone safer. First, set up car rules so your kids know what to expect. Explain to children that while mommy or daddy is driving, they cannot pickup dropped toys, or hand out snacks until the car stops. Provide a caddy or box in the backseat where kids can reach their own toys and snacks and have a place to throw their trash along the way.
Parents can help by organizing their day to run errands at the right time, or the time of the day when children and babies are happy and fed. When possible, ask a friend or neighbor to watch the baby so mom can get her errands done quickly and safely.