Parents may be the most distracted drivers in North Carolina

Parents may be the most distracted drivers in North Carolina

Many people probably believe that teenagers and young adults in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, are more likely to drive negligently than any other population group in the area. However, research on distracted driving reveals that parents can be just as guilty as their older children are when it comes to dangerous driving habits. In some regards, parents may actually be worse distracted drivers.

Many parents drive with distractions

A recent University of Michigan survey took a closer look at the driving habits that more than 600 parents displayed while their children were in the car. The survey polled parents on behaviors including:

The results showed that teenagers are not the only distracted drivers on the road. Nine in ten parents admitted that in the last month they had engaged in at least one of the behaviors involving a cell phone, a navigation system, or other technology.

The lead author of the study also noted that parents who had children under the age of 12 in the car were more likely to have been in an accident. These findings agree with the results of a study published earlier this year, which shows that parents who are driving with children in the car may be facing one of the worst possible distractions.

Children can take up too much attention

No parent will be surprised to hear that having a child in the car can be distracting, but many people don't appreciate the extent of that distraction. An Australian study conducted earlier this year turned up a few surprising figures that help quantify the effect of children in the car.

The study found that an average parent who is driving with children will spend almost a quarter of a 16-minute trip - 3 minutes and 22 seconds, precisely -looking away from the road. The study also concluded that a baby is eight times more distracting than a grown passenger, and that children distract drivers twelve times more than a conversation on a cell phone would.

This study was unprecedented, so further research could be valuable. However, considering all of the publicity focused on the dangers of texting and using other technology while driving, it's important that parents understand the effects children can have.

Tips for setting boundaries

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recommends that parents clearly teach children what behavior is acceptable while in the car. It's important to establish expectations and show that behavior like fighting, fussing, yelling, or demanding things of the driver is not appropriate.

It can be hard for parents to break the instinct to frequently check on their children, hand them food or drinks, pick up dropped toys, and otherwise entertain or administer to them. It's critical for parents to remember that, ultimately, the best thing they can do for their children is to keep them safe by focusing on driving.

Anyone who has been hurt as the result of another driver being distracted or negligent should speak to a lawyer about seeking compensation.

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