Distracted driving refers to driving while performing any other action that causes you to take your attention away from the road and the act of driving. Examples of this could be talking on the phone, sending text messages, eating, playing with the car controls or some device, putting on makeup, etc. Unfortunately, distracted driving causes thousands of fatal accidents each year in the United States. According to statistics from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), this activity claimed 3,477 lives in 2015 alone; and the frequency with which this happens continues to increase.
However, for some people, there is a distraction that can be much greater than those mentioned above: traveling with young children in the car.
We know that children and babies require a lot of attention and that parents worry and get stressed when something happens to them. According to research carried out in Australia, traveling with children can distract the driver twelve times more than talking on the phone or sending text messages. Even more worrying, the study found that parents often take their eyes off the road entirely to meet a child's need. It was estimated that, in an average 16-minute trip, a parent can take their eyes off the wheel for up to 3.5 minutes. Three and a half minutes! Let's imagine all the things that could happen during that time.
While it can be very easy to simply turn off a cell phone, put it in the glove compartment, and ignore it, how can you ignore the screams and cries of a desperate or hungry child? Children can do many things to distract their parents. Some examples include:
- Throwing things on the floor of the car, like their toys or their glasses or bottles.
- They may feel hungry.
- They may need a diaper change.
- Feeling sick or dizzy during the trip.
- Throwing up.
- A fight between siblings.
- Screaming and crying.
- Throwing objects.
- Kicking the driver's seat.
Therefore, it is extremely important to plan a trip before driving with children in the car. Make sure that their basic needs are covered before starting the trip and that they have everything at hand. If an incident occurs during that time, it is best to stop and resolve the discomfort of your children. You can learn more by reading our guide on distracted driving facts.