Kids Cause 12% of Driver Distraction, Study Finds

By Jennifer Newman  on March 22, 2013

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Ahh, kids. They're your precious cargo when you're running errands in a car, but they can also be the biggest distraction. From breaking up backseat squabbles between siblings to helping a child reach that toy that dropped on the floor, many parents know that when they're driving with kids they're often distracted from driving.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver compared to 3,267 killed in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An Australian study found that kids cause 12% of driver distraction, according to a report on ABC's "Nightline" (watch the full report below).

The 2011 study, which recorded families with kids ages 1 to 8 in the car, found that the drivers did the following when kids were in the car:
  • 76.4% of the drivers turned to look at the backseat passengers or viewed them in the rearview mirror
  • 16% talked to their children in the backseat
  • 7% helped their children (by passing food and drinks)
  • 1% played with their kids

Short of putting in some sort of Plexiglas divider between the front and back rows, there are some things that parents can do when driving with kids in the car, according to "Nightline":

  • Pull over: Before you reach for the baby's toy that fell on the floor, pull the car over.
  • Establish car rules: This won't work with infants, but once kids are a little older, remind them that you can't get their snack or reach their toy until the car has stopped.

What tactics do you use to keep your kids from distracting you while driving? Tell us in the comment section below.

Related
One of the Worst Driving Distractions on the Road: Your Kids ("Nightline") 
What to Do If You See a Distracted Driver 
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Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Newman is a certified car-seat technician. A mom of two, she owns a 2013 Subaru Outback crammed with sports gear.  Email Jennifer


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