Distraction In The Back Seat

“Are we there yet?”

“She took my toy!”

“Moooooooom!”

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard these complaints and questions coming from the back seat of your car. You might think you’re a pro at handling a whiny or hungry child while still keeping  your eyes on the road. But are you?

According to a new study out of Australia, kids are 12 times more distracting than cell phones. The study claims that, during a simple sixteen minute trip with kids in the backseat, the average parent had their eyes off the road for a staggering three minutes and 22 seconds. Babies make the situation even worse — they are eight times more distracting to the driver than an adult passenger.

There are many ways a child can be a distraction in the car. They may drop a toy, squabble with siblings, or beg for snacks. Plus, many parents simply have to urge to check back and make sure their kids are okay. Tending to a restless or needy child might seem like the right parenting choice, but when it involves looking away from the road, everyone in the car is in danger. A car can travel the length of three football fields in just a few seconds, enough time to cause a serious accident. By paying attention to your child, you might actually be putting them in more danger.

To avoid distraction, be prepared. Keep toys and snacks easily within reach of your kids. For babies and young children, though, be aware of choking hazards. Pack a CD or audiobook that the whole family can enjoy to keep the kids distracted, or let them watch a movie on a tablet or car TV. For longer trips, look up rest stops or parks in advance, and plan to stop for a few minutes. That way, kids can run around in the fresh air.  With some luck, they will tire themselves out and nap for part of the trip.

If an issue arises, pull over instead of trying to deal with it while driving. If you can’t pull over, tell your child they will simply have to wait. This might mean you have to deal with some whining or crying, but do your best to put up with it. Obviously, if there is a real emergency, pull over as soon as possible, but remember to find a safe spot

You can also work to set a good example for your kids. Before getting in the car, teach them about the dangers of distracted driving, and remind them that it’s important that you stay focused and alert. Avoid any other types of distracted driving behavior, like talking on the phone or texting. If everyone in the car attempts to cooperate, the ride will be much happier and safer!

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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