New Study Reveals Kids Are Bigger Driving Distraction for Parents than Cell Phones


April 12, 2013

Most drivers are well aware of the dangers posed by distracted driving. While motorists may assume that many car accidents that cause permanent, debilitating injuries and wrongful death involve drivers who are distracted while talking or texting on cell phones, they might find the results of a recent study surprising. The study reported by ABC Nightline suggests that a distraction that may be just as deadly but receives little attention is the distraction of parents by their kids.

While the study is interesting because there is virtually no attention devoted to this issue by government motor vehicle safety agencies or consumer safety groups, parents will probably not be that surprised by the research. If you have taken any of those nightmarish car rides where the kids are fighting non-stop, you understand the magnitude of the problem. The struggle of trying to keep kids under control and prevent them from harassing one another is such a universal parenting experience that it is often the target of comedians and Hollywood.

However, this new research reveals that the danger posed by distracting kids when parents are driving is a serious matter. The study conducted by Australian researchers found that children are twelve times more distracting than talking on a cell phone when driving. The study also found that the average parent diverts his or her eyes from the road for nearly 3.5 minutes during a 16 minute car ride. In other words, parents’ eyes are focused on their children rather than the road and potential obstacles almost a fourth of the time that they are behind the wheel during these types of short car rides. Interestingly, kids are more distracting to dads who are both more distracted and distracted for longer periods of time.

There are a multitude of distractions caused by children that the researchers found can divert the attention of parents from their driving, such as:

  • Disciplining children
  • Trying to break up a fight or argument
  • Comforting crying babies
  • Adjusting an entertainment system like a DVD player
  • Assisting kids with food or beverages

These results supplement earlier findings regarding child-based driving distractions reported by AAA. The automobile insurance and safety advocacy group found that babies are eight times more distracting than adult passengers.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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