To drive with safety in mind, focus on observing everything around you. Any distraction — from texting or adjusting a GPS device to handling obstreperous kids — increases the risk of a serious crash resulting in injuries or death.
A newly released study by the Monash University Accident Research Center conclusively determined what every parent, nanny, babysitter and sibling already knew: it is more dangerous to drive with children in the backseat. And it’s not just a bit more dangerous. Risks can increase up to twelvefold.
Researchers installed cameras in 12 family vehicles for three weeks. Surprisingly, the cameras revealed that cell phone conversations accounted for only one percent of all distractions (which is not to say that those distractions were not dangerous). Kids in the backseat, on the other hand, amounted to 12 percent. In practical application, their parents were driving blind for about three minutes and 22 seconds of every average, 16-minute errand run. Three minutes and 22 seconds is more than enough time to get into a potentially deadly accident. When cell phones combined with child passengers, the risks of an accident increased significantly.
This is the first time a study of this nature has concluded what parental anecdotal evidence already suggested: young children in the backseat of a vehicle can be a serious distraction. Drivers turn around or use rear-view mirrors to check on kids. They play with the children or hand them drinks, snacks and toys, all of which pull them away from the road. Monash studied 92 trips monitored by in-vehicle cameras. 90 of those trips involved distracted driving. Other safety hazards also appeared: in 70 percent of trips with carseats, children were incorrectly buckled in.
Make sure to attend to the road with children in the backseat. It is the best way to protect them.