Kids are More Distracting than Cell Phones While Driving

The consequences of distracted driving are no joke, and this behavior results in thousands of fatal accidents every year in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,477 lives in 2015 alone.”

At the Law Offices of Zappettini & Bradley, we think “dangerous” is an understatement. In addition to the statistics around the topic, our personal experience dealing with victims of distracted driving accidents truly make a compelling case for staying attentive behind the wheel.

As experienced Sacramento car accident lawyers, we always stay current on the latest news and trends pertaining to our practice, and the findings in this article may surprise you. If you are a parent, they may be old news, but at any rate, keeping our families safer in the car is important to everyone.

So, What is Distracted Driving?

“Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system – anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving,” according to the NHTSA.

If you are a parent, babysitter, or daycare provider, then you are likely aware of the challenges of driving with children in the car, and how distracting they can be.

An article from tells stories a few distracted drivers shared with them:

Susan V. might be the driver you see:

“I’m a horrible offender,” admits the Queen Creek, Arizona, mom, who spends two hours in the car each day, driving her kids, 5 and 7, to school. “I find myself driving with my knees while I hand out breakfast and drinks like a flight attendant.

I referee arguments. Once, I even reached back to deflect a carsick kid’s vomit out a window with a sun visor. The worst part is that I had a cousin who died in a car crash (she was trying to get something off the floor for her child), and it still hasn’t stopped me from making these bad choices.”

Another is Matt H., who was pulling out of his driveway one morning in a quiet Virginia suburb when his BlackBerry chimed:

“I looked down to check my email, and as I looked up, I saw that I was driving right into a 9-year-old on a bike. Thank God he was okay,” says Howard. “But I knew I could have killed him, and I felt sick to my stomach. The poor kid was as white as a ghost and shaking as I helped him up. It was an eye-opening experience.”

And a third example is Elisabeth L., who loads her three boys, ages 18 months, 2, and 4, into car seats and then drives her husband to work. She claims it can be an intense ride:

“The youngest one hates the car, so we play the music really loud, and everyone drums on the ceiling. If he still cries, I reach back and rub his foot. I’m grateful that we’ve never been in a crash,”

says the Orlando mom, admitting that she’s rummaged around for dropped toys, offered bottles, and even changed a DVD while she was driving.

Australian Study Determines Children Can be 12 Times More Distracting than Mobile Devices

According to an article published by ABC News, “one of the worst distractions might be something parents do every day: driving with kids in the backseat of the car.”

“In a first-of-its-kind study, Australian researchers found that children are 12 times more distracting to the driver than talking on a cell phone while at the wheel,” reported ABC. The study found that on average, parents take their eyes off the road for about 3.5 minutes during a trip that lasts 16 minutes.

A study conducted by the AAA also found that fussy babies are 8 times more distracting to a driver than adult passengers.

Common Child-Related Distractions Parents Face:

And the most distracting act committed by drivers with kids in the car? Turning round to check on the kids the backseat, which accounted for 76%. Compared to that, talking with the kids, at 16%, and helping kids with snacks or drinks at 7%, pale in comparison. Even having another adult in the passenger seat did not make a difference. And surprisingly, the worst offenders were the dads in this study.

  • Fussing babies or toddlers
  • Fighting kids
  • Dropped toys or food
  • Kicking or hitting drivers seat
  • Throwing things
  • Asking for things like snacks, bathroom breaks, etc
  • Spills

As most who have driven with children can attest, traveling even a short distance with kids in the car can be incredibly challenging and stressful. We understand that driving with your kids can’t be avoided, but we have come up with some helpful ideas that might just make it safer, and less of a distraction. You might even consider having a friend, family member or neighbor keep an eye on the kids while you’re running your errands. But this may not be an option for everyone, so here are some other ideas.

To enhance safety while driving with children you can:

  • Schedule trips during nap time so your child sleeps.
  • Make it a rule that you don’t pick up dropped items while driving. Period. And make sure the kids are all aware of the rule.
  • Make sure the kids are fed before you leave the house
  • If your kids are still in diapers, make sure they are fresh and drive before you leave
  • Consider buying a portable DVD player or installing one in your vehicle.
  • Do not text or take phone calls while driving, especially when your kids are in the car.
  • Keep snacks close by

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?

No one wants to be involved in an accident, particularly one that might have been caused by someone else’s negligence. If you were injured in a car accident, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Zappettini & Bradley for a FREE CASE EVALUATION. You may have limited time to bring a claim, and we can help you through every step of the process.