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Are your children driving you to distraction?

in Compensation Law by Joanne Panagakis on

As a parent of two young children I certainly know what it’s like to try to concentrate while driving with two lively kids in the backseat.

If they’re not fighting with each other over the same toy, they are whining about how long the car trip is taking, or asking me to pick-up something they have dropped on the floor.

According to recent research, I’m not the only parent dealing with distracting children in the car; a survey of around 1500 parents Australia-wide asked about their driving behaviours with children in the vehicle.

Not surprisingly, most Australian parents admitted that their children distract them while behind the wheel.

The findings showed 76 per cent of Australian parents said their children distract them while behind the wheel, with mums (77 per cent) slightly more likely to be distracted than dads (76 per cent).

When asked to list their anti-distraction tactics, unsurprisingly, snacks and treats topped the list with 36 per cent of respondents saying it was one of their strategies.

This was followed by music (35 per cent); puzzles, books or toys (34 per cent); car games (27 per cent); smartphones or other electronic devices (27 per cent); singing songs (26 per cent) and inbuilt DVD players (19 per cent).

Some parents said there was no need for tactics because it only happened rarely or they could easily ignore their noisy children, while 2 per cent said they don’t have any tactics, but wished they did.

The findings also match-up with research by Monash University Accident Research Centre that found children are 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a mobile phone.

University researchers also found the average parent takes their eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip.

As a motor vehicle accident lawyer, I strongly urge parents to take steps to diminish how much of a distraction their children are in the car.

From my personal experience, the biggest key to avoiding distractions is to plan ahead, and prevent situations when the kids can distract you, particularly when taking a long trip.

Think ahead about which foods or forms of entertainment work well to keep your children occupied to minimise the level of distraction.

Importantly in-car distractions are a significant crash risk but it is not a good excuse to say your children distracted you if you cause an accident which hurts or kills someone.

A bit of planning before your trip can ensure you and your family arrive safely at your destination.

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