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Children 12 times more Distracting to Drivers than Mobile Phones

New research carried out by the Monash University Accident research centre in Melbourne has revealed that children are 12 times more distracting in the car than using a mobile phone whilst driving. 

Last week we covered stories on the dangers of becoming distracted whilst taking Instagram selfies or using Google Glass whilst behind the wheel. But this recent study shows that motorists spend 20 per cent of each journey taking their eyes off the road to check on their children. This is done either directly or in the rear-view mirror.

For the study, researchers recruited 12 families with an average of two children aged between one to eight. The cars were then filtered with cameras to monitor everyday driving habits across a period of 3 weeks. 

According to the University Herald, a whopping 90 out of the 92 short trips recorded on camera showed the drivers become distracted when the child was in the car. Roughly 76 per cent of the time, drivers looked directly at their children to checked on them in the mirror. 

Other distractions included reaching round to assist a child, talking to them, and even actually playing with them whilst they were driving. The study also found the average parent takes their eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute journey.

Professor Judith Charlton, from the university’s Accident Research Centre, stated that “drivers often don’t consider their own children to be a distraction.” Charlton then went on to say that “previous research has shown that, compared with driving alone, dialling a mobile phone while driving is associated with 2.8 times the crash risk, and talking or listening while driving is associated with 1.3 times the crash risk.”

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has said that “a key difference is that parents have to drive their children, whereas they do not need to use a mobile phone while driving.”

Clinton also said that “using a mobile phone while at the wheel is an avoidable and dangerous distraction.” 

Leaning round to play with your children in the car, however, is also avoidable. Clinton concluded that “if children are getting too boisterous or fractious, the driver should find somewhere safe to stop to deal with the situation.” 

What do you think? Is this easier said than done? Let us know by dropping a comment below.

Image: Flickr 

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