In Tennessee, when we talk about distracted driving, people tend to think about things like talking and texting while driving. However, while these certainly are very real distractions, researchers recently found that children are among the worst distractions for parents who are driving.
According to the study conducted by these researchers, during a 16 minute car trip, a parent with children in the vehicle will typically take their eyes off of the road for an average of three minutes and 22 seconds. This is obviously quite a bit of time to not be paying full attention to the road and puts everyone at risk.
The reasons for taking their eyes off of the road range from breaking up arguments between siblings to picking up dropped toys and turning around when talking with children.
One mother, who heard about the study and considered herself a safe driver, wanted to put herself to the test. She had a team of distracted driving experts analyze videos of her typical driving behaviors when her two children were in the car.
In these videos, not only was she distracted by one of her children handing her an empty wrapper, but her rearview mirror was positioned in a way to keep an eye on her children, which is not the original intention of a rearview mirror. Other times, she also reached for her cellphone when driving and is seen adjusting the DVD player in the family vehicle.
Of course reading this, some Tennessee residents may be outraged. However, the truth is that her behaviors are similar to many other parents' in the state.
To try and prevent distractions from children, parents are encouraged to set rules in the car so children know what to expect if a toy or food is dropped. Parents should also always avoid taking phone calls or text messages when driving. If this is too tempting, keep in mind there are even apps that can be used to block incoming calls that bring callers straight to voicemail that explains the person is driving at this time and will return their call later.